This month’s nonprofit spotlight looks at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center, headquartered at 38 West Pomfret St. in Carlisle. CALC provides arts education to individuals, educational institutions, and businesses to enrich the Carlisle- area community.
When was CALC founded, and how have its offerings changed over the years?
Becky Richeson, CALC Executive Director: This is an exciting year for the Carlisle Arts Learning Center (CALC)—we kicked-off our 25th Anniversary year last fall and celebrated CALC’s continued commitment to serve and enrich the greater Carlisle community by encouraging creativity and self-esteem through the exploration and appreciation of the visual arts. Over the past 25 years our programs have grown exponentially—directly serving over 5,000 people in our community each year. In 2013, CALC moved to our new home on W. Pomfret Street and in 2016 we added a new classroom—both due to increased demands for arts classes, programs, and opportunities.
Has the demand for art programs changed over time? What sort of gaps in art education has CALC sought to fill?
We have seen an increase in the demand for arts education and programs over time, as well as a community understanding that the arts can educate and bring a community together. CALC has increased the number of art classes offered, significantly grown our summer camp program, doubled the number of artist exhibition opportunities with a second floor gallery, prioritized free and scholarship-based programming for youth and is completely committed to community partnerships and engaging our community through the arts.
CALC works to meet the needs of both the community and families through the arts. By adding full-day summer camps and summer camps for middle-school youth we are providing engaging opportunities for youth at a critical age. CALC’s ArtWorks! program is a free, after-school art program for middle-school and high school youth with a mission to give back to the community utilizing the arts. These students learn about their community and through the arts they engage our community on important topics, such as bullying and clean water. CALC also offers Art Club, a free after-school art club at Le Tort Elementary School. By offering this right after school, in their school building, and free, it gives every student the opportunity to participate without having to worry about transportation or cost. CALC works closely with the Carlisle Area School District to maximize all of these programs, as well as summer camp scholarships opportunities.
Has business interest in the arts changed or improved since CALC began offering its programs and assistance?
We have found the business community is very supportive of the arts—they understand that the arts make a community an interesting and desirable place to live, work, and play, and that the arts draw people into a community which is important to build a successful business. More and more businesses are recognizing that employees with some arts education think more openly and creatively which is critical in business. Businesses also understand that arts education also builds team building, communication, problem-solving skills, and self-esteem—important life skills for every member of our community and important for a healthy community.
What is the primary source of funding for your organization? Is financing a challenge?
Financing is critical for every non-profit. CALC is very lucky to have a community that understands the importance of the arts. Our primary source of funding is donations, from businesses, individuals, and foundations. We also generate funding through art classes and the sale of artwork. CALC is also now eligible for EITC funding through businesses for our free after-school programs for youth—this is exciting because there is a demand to expand our free, after-school Art Club program.
CALC’s signature programs include:
- ArtWORKS!: A free, grant-funded, after-school program for middle school students that promotes self-esteem and giving back to the community through the arts.
- Works in the Windows: A partnership that provides artwork in vacant storefront windows, plain restaurant and office walls—including Borough Hall—so that Carlisle is a stimulating and vibrant destination.
- Art Classes, Camps, and Free Lectures: Educational opportunities for both children and adults in a variety of mediums and topics.
- Art Club: Free after-school art club offered in the elementary school.
- Hope Station: Full scholarship-based camps that provide all children the access to art—we bring art to Hope Station so that transportation is not a barrier and children can be comfortable in their own neighborhood.
- CONNECT Summer Art Camp: scholarship-based summer camp that provides middle-school youth the access to art. CONNECT Camp fills an important gap for an age where meaningful activities can be hard to find.
- Empty Bowls: A fundraising event organized by CALC to benefit Carlisle’s primary food assistance program, Project SHARE.
- Exhibitions: Opportunities for local and regional artists to exhibit their work in CALC’s gallery, sales gallery, and off-site locations throughout Carlisle.
- Carlisle Area School District Art Show: Artwork selected by district art teachers is formally exhibited in CALC’s main gallery
- Art on the Farm: A partnership with Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture to showcase Central Pennsylvania’s unique agricultural resources through art, education and food.
- Scholarships: CALC provides financial aid to assure all children and adults have access to art classes and camps.
- Birdhouse Project: CALC and the Elm Street Program, now under Hope Station, partner to bring art to the outdoors making downtown Carlisle an interesting place to be with over 300 birdhouses hand-painted by artists of all ages.
- Art & Adventure Camp: Art and the outdoors collide in the most adventurous way through a partnership with Diakon Wilderness Center, brining much needed summer programs for youth aged 9-14.