Rochelle Collins shares about her passion for arts in Lebanon

Rochelle Collins, CEO/President, The Arts Council of Lebanon is passionate about engaging the community through arts. PROVIDED
Rochelle Collins, CEO/President, The Arts Council of Lebanon is passionate about engaging the community through arts. PROVIDED

She says community supportive of The Arts Council of Lebanon.

We caught up with Rochelle Collins, CEO/President to find out more about The Arts Council of Lebanon. She shared about her passion for art, and her love for the Lebanon community.

Collins also talked about the latest exhibition, “Warriors As Creators,” which features more than 35 works of art from employees of the Lebanon City Schools. The art will be on display every Saturday through February 17.

The Arts Council of Lebanon's gallery, located at 117 East Mulberry Street in Lebanon, is open on Saturday's from noon – to 4 p.m. during the exhibition, which is free and open to the public. For more information on upcoming classes, or events, go to www.artoflebanon.com.

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Q: Can you tell us about The Arts Council of Lebanon?

A: …Lebanon has a lot of fantastic artists, and art organizations. And, there's never been an organization to shine the spotlight, specifically, on this group. With the inception of The Arts Council of Lebanon, everything changed. We changed our method of promotion. We started writing a newspaper article. Now we have an interview show with Lebanon artists called Exposure. We decided that it was important to have a home base.

So, we have a gallery, opening receptions for the different shows that we have, and upcoming artist talks. We also have classes and workshops that are offered to the community. We realized in Lebanon that art touches all of us, all the time…Art is everywhere.

Q: Why did you want to get involved with the Arts Council?

A: In opening the paper one day, I saw that there was an ad, asking for board members for the Warren County Arts Council, and I went to a meeting, and I stayed in touch with them. When I found out the president was leaving, and they were thinking of disbanding, that’s when I showed up at the board meeting and said, ‘Hey, I have some ideas.”

Q: What are you enjoying the most about your role?

A: It's multi-faceted. I love this town. It's a gem of a town, and the opportunities it offers, and the support from the residents are amazing. The residents are incredibly supportive, The City Council is incredibly supportive, and there's a lot of opportunities here. I think what I'm enjoying the most, and again, there are many avenues here, but one would be working with the community. We recently held workshops for the community to decorate ornaments for our town's Christmas tree. That's never happened before.

Usually, it’s one grade level in school, where the kids decorate, and it all goes up, and that’s wonderful. But, it’s a community tree, so we thought, why don’t we see about allowing everyone – children and adults – to come together to create ornaments, so it truly is a tree for all of us. That was fantastic, because so many people came out and decorated ornaments. The feedback was great, and the ornaments were amazing. It speaks to the talent that we have in Lebanon. Also, the support that we received from City Council, and Mayor Amy Brewer has been fantastic, and she inspires us to do more for the community. The fact that we can promote the artists of Lebanon, and hold classes for kids, and they are affordable.

When children take a class, they get a lot out of it. They get art history, art presentation and art technique whenever they come to a class. So, it’s a comprehensive way to teach art, but it’s also fun. We try to make it extremely fun for both children and adults. We’re just excited to be able to give this to the community that has given us so much.

Q: How many people participated in making the Christmas tree ornaments?

A: The Arts Council developed the look…We said we are going to take pieces of wood and spray paint some of them. We left others unfinished. Then, we drilled holes in them, and strung wire through them, so we could hang them on the tree. Then, we had open studio days, and put it out on social media and in public forums to let people know what days they could come in a make an ornament. We provided all of the art supplies. Participants could just show up and create an ornament that would be placed on the tree. We had a little over 300 participants. We also teamed up with several local organizations, so that their groups could participate. But, a lot of people came in during our open studio time, and it was great. We really saw the community come together.

Q: Tell us about a few of the programs offered by The Arts Council of Lebanon?

A: One thing we are excited about, and that we've been doing since our inception is a program called "Art Adventurers." We just received an arts partnership grant from the Ohio Arts Council for the program. With this program, we go into preschools and kindergartens that don't have a devoted art teacher, and we bring our program to them. The object of the program is to show children how art, science, math and literature are all related, and how math is creative, and literature, or words are creative, and science is incredibly creative, and you need creativity and artistry to do any of these properly. But, to do art properly, you also need to know about math, science and literature, and they are all intertwined, and they are all important.

We have programs in four schools right now, and we are hoping to expand that, even as soon as next month to more schools for a total of six schools that we go into and provide these lessons, and it’s free to the schools, because we are fully funded by the arts partnership grants that we received from the Ohio Arts Council, and we’re so grateful for that. That’s something that continues. We do it every school year, and it’s important to us.

It’s a great introduction to how art fits into the academic lives of these young children, who are just starting their academic lives. We also offer classes with 10-week sessions. They are on-going, every 10 weeks, and some of the classes continue, and others are different. For example, right now we have an “Art Confidence” class for children ages 7-12. It’s a way to introduce art concepts to children, so that they feel comfortable knowing how to draw, how to sculpt and how to paint. They learn basic concepts, but they’re necessary for a strong art foundation…

We also have “Little Art Adventurers,” and we offer “Art Camp” on Friday nights. We also offer monthly workshops for adults…We also have our gallery. Right now, we have an exhibit called “Warriors As Creators,” which is focused on the Lebanon City Schools employees and their creativity.

Q: Tell us about your family. Do you live in Lebanon?

A: I live in Lebanon, in the middle of town. My husband, Dylan Posa, and I have two children, a son and a daughter. My husband works at the Lebanon Public Library. He's also involved in the Rotary Club of Lebanon. It's one of the best decisions we made in our lives together was to move to Lebanon. It's been a wonderful experience, and we absolutely adore it.

Q: What do you love most about your role with The Arts Council of Lebanon?

A: I love the collaborative effort that we're able to establish with other organizations in Lebanon. I love that we can work with Main Street Lebanon and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, and the City Council, because it creates a strength of unity for the betterment of this town. Everybody is working together, and they believe in the others' mission.

It’s a solid working relationship throughout all the organizations in town, so that we’re on the same page, and we all support each other. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s exciting for the future.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.