The Centre for Creative Arts artfully adapted to COVID and continues to deal with it creatively.
Executive Director Candace Hook for the Centre for Creative Arts said it had been a challenging but successful year as she updated Grande Prairie’s Community Services Committee Tuesday morning.
Hook said things looked promising early in 2020 with people signing up to take classes and participate in programming. That changed in March.
“All of a sudden, the encouraging starts became a whole lot of question marks out there in the community,” Hook said. “Our team did a really good job of keeping in touch with all of our students and maintaining communication. There was a lot of changing circumstances at the beginning of the year, but we were able to either postpone, alternatively deliver or refund all of our students for the classes that they registered for going into the pandemic.
“It lifted our spirits to see how many students just wanted to keep that credit on file and come back to us when they were ready to take our programs in person again, which was very helpful for us financially and also just a good nod that we were heading in the right direction that people were willing to stay invested with our organization.”
By last summer, the Centre for Creative Arts could move back into programming.
“We started out with our summer camp for last year because there was a big demand for that,” Hook said. “As you know, last year in the summer everything was very new. We were wading through a lot of new restrictions, and regulations and best practices to the best of our ability.
“In the previous year, in 2019, we had (more than) 200 students registered for summer camp. Last year we had 32. So we reduced it down to four weeks, limited it to eight students at a time, but it was a really good chance for us to learn and communicate with families and find out what works.”
By fall, Centre was rolling with all the programming, and then in December, it was shut down again but not before having a couple of weeks for Christmas sales.
“The whole year was doing what we can as safely as we can when we were able to do so,” Hook said. “And actually, I feel we came out of the year with a few more tools in our kit. We were able to adapt some of our programming to deliver them either distanced or online. We came up with 20 at-home art lessons throughout the year that were available with step-by-step directions, and we did hundreds and hundreds of at-home art tips, especially for our students that were already in our system and for our Healing Arts students.
“The Healing Arts program was great because we work with partners throughout our community via different social service agencies that were able to help out and distribute those kits and those supplies.”
The future looks promising for the Centre for the Creative Arts.
“I think going into 2021, even though we anticipate it being a very challenging year, we worked out some of the kinks, and we know that we have been able to grow and deliver things in different ways,” Hook said. “We are hopeful that we can keep doing that, and hopefully, eventually, we can roll back into more in-person programming. But in the meantime, we found some things that work for us to keep the community creating.”
The Centre for Creative Arts management and directors expressed their gratitude for the continued support by the city.
“Over the last year, we were really diligent in cutting expenses where we could and applying to available provincial and federal COVID-relief benefits where we (could),” Hook said. “We actually managed to come out of 2020 just barely in the black but in the black and put some savings into an account for what we anticipate is going to be another difficult year.”