The Art Center Board has had countless discussions about how to continue our mission to support local artists and bring art to the community—while keeping our community safe. That meant we closed down in-person shows and sales, plus our ever-popular after-school and adult art classes almost a year ago. Since then we’ve worked on how to safely go outdoors and online.

With comprehensive COVID protocols in place, we’ve been able to do some kiln firings in our large ceramics yard whenever county orders have permitted it. Our plans are to expand that as the weather continues to improve. We’re also making plans for small outdoor ceramics classes and limited ceramics studio hours.

We’ve been working to tap into the expertise of other art centers, local art organizations, and a pilot program at UCSC to find or develop good platforms for online classes and sales. We’ve offered two standalone Zoom classes so far, and the critique group that used to meet at the Art Center has now taken their sessions online.

The most successful transition has been our virtual gallery shows. These have given us the opportunity to showcase an even larger selection of artwork than we can sometimes fit in our gallery. And artists have been enthusiastic about the chance to show their works.

As we develop more online programs, it opens up the opportunity for us to bring in guest teachers from out of the area, and to attract art buyers from anywhere as well. Even after the shutdowns end, we hope to use our newfound knowledge and skills to keep that going.

As COVID limits have loosened, we’ve also taken the opportunity to have pop-up sidewalk sales, providing a venue for our member artists to sell their works. Our Valentine’s Day sale was a big success and we’re now planning for dates in April and May, as long as county guidelines permit us to do so at those times.