By Susan Adams
Spiva Art Camps See Surge in Attendance
The sounds of summer! Children laughing and giggling, small feet clomping up and down stairways, snacks, juice, and art! It is absolutely wonderful to be hearing these sounds of creativity again at the George A Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin.
2021 Summer Art Camps mark the first in-person classes for children since March 2020. Education Director Sarah Clements said children’s programming went virtual at that time, out of an abundance of caution and the priority of keeping the little ones safe. Spiva created at-home activities that families could do together, and their popular after-school program, Creation Station, went online.The sounds of summer! Children laughing and giggling, small feet clomping up and down stairways, snacks, juice and art! It is absolutely wonderful to be hearing these sounds of creativity again at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin.
Families participated in a photography project in which they dressed up as characters in famous works of art, and those masterpieces were posted on the Center’s Facebook and Instagram pages, and “Make and Take” boxes were created for parents to pick up and take home for kids to use to make art at home.
In spring 2021, two local charitable trusts began accepting applications for project funding.
The Jean H. Lemons, Mildred Harlan Lemons and Jack H. Lemons Charitable Trust was created to support institutions operating in the Joplin area where Jack Lemons and his parents spent their lifetimes. An emphasis is placed on medical and educational charities. This seemed perfect for the Spiva Summer Camp program.
At the same time, the W.R. Corley Memorial Trust also began accepting applications. Robert R. Corley was a local businessman and philanthropist and a longtime supporter of Spiva Center for the Arts. His trust focuses on programs for low-income populations. This grant also seemed to be an excellent fit.
Spiva applied for both grants, hoping to receive enough funding to be able to offer the art camps at a drastically reduced rate for about 50 percent of the students, which typically cost $100 per session. Unexpectedly, Spiva received full funding from both charitable trusts, which allowed them to offer the camps at $5 per two- or three-day sessions to all of the students. The kids ranged in age from 5 to 17, and the teachers were able to accommodate all skill levels. Each student also received a complimentary one-year membership to the art center.
This year’s students had their choice of six camps: Fused Glass, Drawing, Comic Book Camp, Masters of Mediums, Photography, and Digital Art. Once the discounted fee was made public, the classes sold out in a matter of days. Waiting lists were created but soon became too large to be manageable. The teachers included professional artists, a Missouri Southern State University professor, and a professional photographer. The students’ work has been featured on Spiva’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Having 15 or more kids in the house every week has reenergized the staff at Spiva. It seems as though the whole community is ready to get out and enjoy some art. First Thursday Art Walks have averaged 70-80 visitors, and the Center is seeing more traffic every day.
Spiva’s upcoming exhibits include Carolyn Cárdenas: Small World and Bobby Ross: Contradictions through late September; Melody Knowles: Matriarchs Unmasked through October 2; and Don and Ruth Snider: Paper and Paints through late August.