“We aim to create an environment where everyone feels free to create and have fun!”, says Emmeline Keeling, program director and art instructor at the Wheatland Society of Arts.
This non-profit organization strives to provide visual arts opportunities for all ages, abilities, and income demographics, while emphasizing the social and mental wellbeing benefits of creating with others who share an interest. Beyond classes for adults, the establishment puts a strong emphasis on low-cost programs for seniors, youth, special needs, and family groups. These include classes, workshops, instructor studio, open studio, and even the occasional out-of-studio event.
As a non-profit organization, the Wheatland Society of Arts is always looking for volunteers to join their team.
“Our paid instructors are extremely grateful for the volunteers,” Keeling states.
Janet Kurka is a board member, the chair for advertising, and an art instructor with WSA. She is also adamant that the Society would not function without the help of their volunteers. Both Keeling and Kurka are quick to emphasize that volunteers do more than assist in classes. They clean, go shopping for supplies, help run events, and much more.
“You can’t be running around giving blue paint to 20 people and teach at the same time! Sometimes we have quite large classes — the largest one I’ve seen recently is 24 people. We will never turn anybody away who wants to volunteer!”
In addition, the Society is constantly on the lookout for members and teachers.
“We’re always looking for teachers,” Kurka adds. “Whether it be a local artist, a professional artist, or just an interested artist who knows how to teach. We’re also always looking for different art mediums as well — we need ideas all the time.”
As for membership, the cost is $20/year for adults, and children and youth are free. Memberships tote the benefit of discounted courses, as well as the opportunity to vote on organization issues.
The Wheatland Society of Arts roster includes classes for preschoolers, school-aged children, preteens, teenagers, and adults.
“I am the most excited about our pottery classes!” shares Keeling. “We just started this September, and we have classes for all ages January through March.”
Kurka connects the joy of the new Hand Clay Pottery class with the generosity of the community.
“The only reason we’re able to do this is because the kiln was donated,” she states. “We’re so lucky, like Emmeline said, that this is happening. So now we have two pottery experts, plus some of our other instructors are learning how to instruct as well.”
Other classes of note include the following:
Young At Heart Art: Mondays from 12:30 pm- 3:30 pm
Here, seniors are invited to come by for crafting and company.
“Some of them live in small places where they can’t spread out to work on a project,” Kurka admits. “So we opened the studio to seniors. Although we’ve never turned a non-senior away!”
Adaptive Art: Mondays from 10 am-11:30 am, and Fridays from 12:30 pm-2:30 pm
“This program allows people with intellectual and physical disabilities to explore their creative side, while socializing!” Emmeline continues, “This artistic opportunity can boost self-esteem, and encourages a sense of self-achievement.”
This program is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Town of Strathmore, the EPCOR Heart And Soul Fund, and West Mountain School Staff- Pay It Forward.
Open Studio: Thursdays from 10 am-3 pm
Janet Kurka is truly passionate about art being for everyone and loves sharing about this particular class.
“Any artist, anybody, can come in with their own supplies, their own projects, and just work with a group of people that are all working on their own stuff. Plus, those of us that lead this studio time are artists too, teachers too. And so, we just help each other out.”
- Preschool Art: Tuesdays 10 am-11 am (ages 3-5)
- Homeschool Art: Wednesdays 10 am-11 am (ages 5-9)
- After School Art: Mondays 4-5:30 pm (ages 6-9)
- Preteen Art: Mondays 6:30 pm-8 pm (ages 9-12)
- Teen Art: dates and times vary (ages 13-17)
“We offer many youth programs every single week,” Keeling explains. “It’s $20 a month, and you get four classes. We try to keep the prices as low as we can for our youth programming classes. That’s through our grants that we get specifically from the Town of Strathmore.”
Anyone interested in taking a class or simply browsing their options is welcome to pick up a brochure, which are updated and reprinted three times a year. Brochures are available at the studio, at the radio station, at The Vault, and at the Library.
Sponsored Content by the Wheatland Society of Arts.