How the Middletown Arts Center brings classes to underserved groups

The Middletown Arts Center has partnered with Abilities First to offer teens and young adults with developmental disabilities art services. CONTRIBUTED
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The Middletown Arts Center has partnered with Abilities First to offer teens and young adults with developmental disabilities art services. CONTRIBUTED

Partnerships between the Middletown Arts Center and area organizations are allowing more residents to have access to the arts and activities, especially during this time of coronavirus cautions.

“By making connections through partnerships we can better serve our community and increase access to art for all. There may be a group for which art services are just not in their budget, or on their radar, but it can be an impactful and meaningful experience," said Kate Dykes, executive director of the Middletown Arts Center.

“Additionally, understanding that many members of our community may be below the poverty level and not be able to afford art classes aligns with our core mission to connect underserved individuals with art experiences.”

The MAC has partnered with Abilities First to offer teens and young adults with developmental disabilities art services, for example. As part of the program, artists have been exploring visual art techniques while trying mediums such as ceramics, acrylic painting, and garden stepping stones. The program is funded by a grant MAC received from Middletown Community Foundation Fondersmith Fund for Youth.

There are other programs and partnerships across the region. They include one with the Butler Behavioral Health-Middletown Counseling Center to provide services to a women’s group.

Many of the women have been meeting regularly for over six years at Butler Behavioral Health. In addition to the classes in which they will take home finished art projects, the group will come together on a collaborative project led by instructor John Ferrando, in which they will create a fused glass work that will be installed at the BBH-MCC site and serve as an inspirational piece for all the clients that visit, she said.

“We are excited about our partnership with Butler Behavioral Health-Middletown Counseling Center because art is known to have therapeutic value, such as reducing anxiety, depression and stress," Dykes said. “Art adds incredible value to your overall happiness and mental well-being. The sense of true accomplishment when finishing a creative project is outstanding. Even beginning artists can enjoy the satisfaction in completing a tangible work of art. MAC is privileged to offer this experience to the BBH women’s group.”

She stressed that partnerships help to make art available to more people throughout the community.

“We have received generous support in the form of grants from funding organizations that believe in our mission, but we need substantially more financial help to meet the critical need currently assessed,” Dykes said.

For more information about the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) and its programs, events, and exhibitions, visit www.middletownartscenter.com or call (513) 424-2417.