Spruill Center offers free artistic options

Thanks to two major donations, the Spruill Center for the Arts is offering free kids' classes.
Thanks to two major donations, the Spruill Center for the Arts is offering free kids' classes.

As the pandemic impacted every area of education, courses across curriculums were forced to reinvent and repackage the way they were presented. Some classes were easier to adapt than others, but those requiring hands-on involvement were difficult. Among the most challenging to pivot have been art programs.

“Arts funding and programming in the virtual world don’t really exist,” said Alan Mothner, CEO of the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. “Yet we know from our families that parents want them.”

In the fall, the center’s staff created a variety of art sessions each Wednesday to provide youngsters hands-on art experiences not available in cyberspace.

“DeKalb [school system] has no programming for kids on Wednesdays, and that came as a big shock to many parents who wanted something for the kids to do,” said Mothner. “The Wonderful Wednesdays were a general arts class with in-person instruction in painting, clay, a little bit of every medium.”

The classes were similar to what the center offers each summer, but the big difference was the availability of scholarships.

“We realized that those families most in need probably don’t have the means to do this,” said Mothner. “Finances at this time shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to get this type of programming.”

Last month, the center’s programs became affordable for everyone when a grant from the Belle and Louise Cofer Fund and the Tomlinson Memorial Foundation made it possible to offer free classes for kids from ages 5 through 19. Mothner expects the free sessions to continue throughout the year as a way to give back to the community that’s been supportive throughout the pandemic.

“At a time when it’s most needed, we are thrilled to be able to offer these in-person classes for our community’s youth and hope that their collective spirit of creativity will continue to uplift us all in the coming months,” Mothner said in a statement.

Since last spring, the center has instituted safety precautions that will remain in place. Air purification systems were installed in each classroom. Participants are required to wear face masks, and class sizes were reduced to ensure social distancing. Additionally, the facilities are sanitized after each use.

For Brookhaven mom Michelle Carden, giving her daughter, Abigail, a way to stay engaged with art is a priority. During the fall, Abigail took a weekly class with just eight other students who learned about different artists and worked on a variety of paint, clay, 3D and multi-media projects.

“She wants to be an artist, and being at home all day just with me and no social interaction wasn’t good,” said Carden. “I looked for classes where she could be around others who share that interest in a small setting. She didn’t know anybody, but she came home happy. Art is an important part of her life, and it gave her something to look forward to during the week. And it gave us both a break.”

Information about Spruill’s art classes is online at spruillarts.org.

SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at hm_cauley@yahoo.com or 770-744-3042.

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