On Friday, Aug. 19, Arts Central—the hub for arts education and advocacy services in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties—closed its doors due to lack of funding. Local art students of all ages and financial means will feel the impact of the loss of the beloved nonprofit that provided hands-on learning opportunities to the community for over 40 years.
Arts Central was the umbrella nonprofit organization for Art Station, VanGo and the Artists in Schools programs. According to the Board's President Bert Kronmiller, the nonprofit had been struggling since the recession. "Even though our enrollment numbers were up significantly, the revenue just doesn't cover all of the operating costs," he explained.
Art Station was Central Oregon's only nonprofit arts school. Located in the heart of Bend, it offered a wide variety of classes and programs for adults, children and families. From printmaking and painting to pottery and more, Art Station offered students the ability to work with almost every art medium imaginable.
Over the years Art Central's outreach programs brought learning opportunities to thousands of children in the community who would have otherwise had no access to art education. The Artists in School program reached over 90,000 Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook, Lake and Klamath county students in their classrooms by connecting practicing artists in the community with the schools.
Once placed in a school, artists engaged kindergarten through 12th grade students by bringing new art concepts into the classroom. Classes included activities that allowed students to express themselves through art as well as opportunities to gain a greater understanding of art concepts and history.
VanGo was a community outreach program that used a mobile art studio to bring arts education to children living in rural towns. The studio, housed in a Honda Element, transported art supplies and art instructors to areas with under-served children who had little to no access to professional-level arts education. As of the end of late 2015 and early 2016, over 2,250 children had been reached through this innovative program.
That Art Central touched and changed many lives is unquestionable.
"The Art Station has been a second home for our family as a place to make new friends and find unique, creative and educational activities for my children," said Heather Daines, local parent and patron.
Over the years, Arts Central went beyond its regular programming to bring art to those most in need—including the sick and individuals and families facing hardship—by bringing the arts to organizations such as Partners in Care Camp Courage, St. Charles Healthcare's cancer program, and Mary's House.
While Art Central's staff and board members mourn the loss of their programs, they hold on to hope that something will come along to make similar programming for the community possible. When asked if he had a message to pass along to the public, Kromiller says, "We want to thank the entire community in the three-county area for their past support. We are really going to miss providing services to the area."