Cheer Story: Bringing Creativity to Communities!

Posted in Cheer Stories

Cheer Story: Bringing Creativity to Communities!

South East District recently concluded its ART STARTS program which was aimed to encourage and strengthen intracommunity partnerships through arts programming, and we’re excited to share its successes!

At the core of our initiative was the empowerment of local leaders. Recreation leaders, arts enthusiasts, and various community groups were inspired to approach their local libraries to discuss potential arts programming. Libraries also took an active role, contacting these groups to foster collaboration. This approach ensured that arts programming remained accessible and vibrant within the community.

We had six (6) communities participate in the ART STARTS program: Alameda and Oxbow, Fillmore and Stoughton, and Carlyle and Arcola.

Libraries play a vital role in promoting arts access and cultural engagement across southeast communities by serving as essential communal hubs that bridge the gap between residents and local artists, offering the necessary space and resources for diverse arts programming.

“For many of our southeast communities, the library may be one of the only community gathering spaces left. We are able to provide access to materials and services that our communities may not be able to experience anywhere else,” Morgan Kelly, Community Services Manager, Southeast Regional Library.

Morgan continues “Our Regional Headquarters houses kits that contain tools for a specific arts practice, which can be booked by participating libraries and organizations based on the artist they're working with. Currently, we have three types of kits: wool felting, linocut printmaking, and hand-built ceramics.”

When asked how this program differs from other Southeast Regional Library offerings, Morgan explained, “Typically, we've created kits that contain everything our staff may need to host a program, as we know that cost can sometimes be a barrier when planning arts and culture programs. With ART STARTS, however, we're encouraging a partnership to help divide costs and the planning process so that all participants feel supported in hosting something that may be entirely outside of their comfort zone. ART STARTS differs from our other arts and culture-based kits in that it does require a professional artist to be present to host the programs.”

A significant achievement of the program was the collaboration between neighboring communities to maximize resources. For instance, two nearby communities could coordinate to book a professional artist, ensuring the artist received a full day’s pay while sharing the travel costs.

“Thanks to sharing costs of fueling mileage, we were each able to afford two different programs at each of our branches,” Megan Andersen, Branch Librarian, Oxbow Public Library.

“Ruth Langwieser of Estevan came to our library in February and March to do two different art classes with us. Ceramic owls and wool felting jellyfish with glow beads and LED lights.”

When asked if the ART STARTS at the Library Guide and supplemental materials were beneficial in bringing artists to the community, Danielle Steele, Recreation Director, Town of Carlyle responded, "The packages that South East District put together are amazing! We have minimal work on our end to organize. I’m able to use the contract templates and clearly communicate plans with each artist. The artists are great at knowing what is in the ART START kits and what they may need to bring along as extras. These programs have run so smooth and I’m really able to plan everything with a couple of quick emails."

“The best part of this program is that it allowed us to fill a gap in our community programming. The two programs we have run so far are completely new to the community, and we have received nothing but positive feedback.”

Artist Rhonda Lamb was attracted to the program because she loves the idea of bringing culture through hands-on learning activities to people in rural communities who might not have access to try new arts and crafts.

“It is always so rewarding to teach and see students be so pleased with what they have created!  It allowed me to take my craft to new people and communities who were so excited to try it and hear about some of the different things you can do in felt.”

One positive takeaway she noted was that these hands-on arts and crafts activities give people a chance to try something new, sparking an interest in pursuing more creative activities.

As we look back on the program’s accomplishments, we are proud of the strengthened community ties and the enriched cultural landscape it has left behind. Thank you to everyone who participated and made this initiative a success!