Bright, bold, beautiful canvases—big and small, by artists young and old—stimulate, amaze, and make you smile when you visit the Arts Education Center in Gettysburg. They might even inspire you to try your hand.
Under the coordination of Gallery and Program Director Wendy Heiges, well-qualified, enthusiastic instructors teach a dazzling variety of visual, performing, studio, and culinary arts in personalized, small group settings. Upcoming classes include Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, where you’ll learn to add realism to your paintings. Sample our culinary classes with fine food and wine pairings, or the popular Monday lunches returning in April, and you won’t be disappointed. More than 1,504 adults took classes last year and reported they were happy with the results. Take a class, see where it takes you, and enjoy discounted tuition when you become an Arts Council member.
Early experiences in the arts are important in a child’s development and lay the groundwork for successful learning later. In 2019, more than 40 summer camps like Ballerinas and Bears, Dirty Hands Pottery, and Cooking around the Globe had 490 enrollments, an increase of 11% over the previous year. More than half of those students enjoyed those experiences thanks to a full scholarship, as we remain dedicated to providing access to all by funding scholarships for low-income families. As we see the arts being cut from our public schools, our programs help fill the gap. On our website you’ll find dozens of summer camps with something to enthrall any child aged 3 to 16.
The Arts Education Center offers programs to inspire people of all ages. Our Creative Aging program helps older adults stay connected, reap positive benefits, and find healing through the arts. Scholarships are available for adults aged 62 and older. Classes designed for wellbeing include Yoga for Recovery and Wellness, Tap Dance, and a Writing Difficult Stories workshop.
At our Annual Meeting each March, I share photos of the past year’s activities, and someone invariably tells me they had no idea the Arts Council does so many things. Some of the “less visible layers of our canvas” include busing children from across the county to the Center for our Eat Smart Play Hard program, where they work with a chef, nutritionist, and movement instructor to creatively address the childhood obesity epidemic. Children learn what to eat, how to prepare it, and fun ways to burn off calories—all healthy habits that will serve them throughout their lives.
Some are Latino students who share their new knowledge by preparing an end-of-semester dinner for their parents. Some are children with autism. According to one young man, our program helped him develop skills to prepare nutritious meals as he began living on his own in an apartment. Younger children, like preschoolers at Head Start, benefit from Eat Smart Play Hard as storytellers help them select healthy ingredients to throw into a pot of “Stone Soup.” Eat Smart Play Hard served 436 students last year, and many were from low-income families.
As with our other programs, Eat Smart Play Hard serves all ages. When our elders improve their quality of life, it positively affects everyone in the family. Our chefs offer useful tips about nutrition and healthy meals-for-one in senior centers across the county.
Other proud achievements include assisting local arts presenters and artists through ACAC’s STAR Grant; presenting 3rdthursdaynoon speakers to enlighten us; and engaging the community at special events. We’re accepting entries until March 6 for our 17th Annual Juried Art Exhibition at Schmucker Art Gallery, Gettysburg College. We will feature work of young artists during our Annual Recyclable Art Contest and Exhibit, April 3-25. Upcoming events include our annual Tee it up Fore the Arts Golf Tournament on April 23rd at The Links, Costume Party, Gingerbread Celebration, and holiday Jingle Ball, which offer enjoyable social occasions to support our programs. Working with 35 partners that help broaden our reach in the community, the Arts Council served an audience of more than 26,628 last year.
We named the community survey that led to the opening of our center “The Big Canvass,” and since the opening, more than 12,000 children have enjoyed the benefits of arts education. We are now ready to paint on a bigger canvas. There is more we can do to better serve this county. Our goal is to make our center “the community center” of Adams County: a space where we enrich lives, improve wellbeing, and heal mind, body, and spirit; a space where we enjoy collaborative relationships with new partners using the arts to tackle challenging community issues like opioid addiction and mental illness; a space where there is room for all to benefit, regardless of age, means, or ability; a space to come together as a community, breathe the same air, and breathe new life into each other. When we have the tools, we should use them to make people’s lives better. The arts make our lives better.
To paint on that bigger canvas, we must make our center financially sustainable for the future. That is the Arts Council’s highest priority. Thanks to tremendous community support, we’ve seen the dream of an Arts Education Center for Adams County come true.
With your continued support, we look forward to realizing new dreams.
Thank you, Alex, for the invitation to share our progress with your readers, and thank you to our students, members, sponsors, and donors for supporting the Adams County Arts Council. We are so grateful for your support.