Community Arts Norristown Holds Open House

NORRISTOWN >> With a combination of determination, skill and a good measure of handiness, scores of volunteers and professionals have created something they’d like the world to come and explore.

Community Arts Norristown (CAN) is holding its first open house today from 1 to 4 p.m. at 506 Haws Ave, Norristown, which is also the home of Grace Lutheran Church.

Adults and kids alike will have the opportunity to sign up for CAN’s affordable spring and summer classes that run the gamut from fine arts like painting and drawing to life skills, such as sewing and cooking.

“We’re really excited about the center,” said executive director Wendy Coleman. “We spent a lot of time getting the facility ready and Grace Lutheran church has also worked with us.”

Many local businesses were happy to lend some tangible support to the cause, Coleman allowed.

“A lot of us are handy and we also had some companies come in and donate their time and materials. Mannington Flooring donated the floor and installed it for half of what would they normally charge. Dow Chemical provided the paint and sent some people over to paint, along with Haverford Trust. We’re a group of families that have pulled together to put the sweat equity into it to get the place clean and safe.”

As Coleman noted in CAN’s mission statement at “Community Arts Norristown is dedicated to inspiring and nurturing youth and adults at all levels of their creative journey. We encourage participation in the arts through advocacy, education and outreach which will serve as a vital creative resource for the Norristown community and beyond. Community Arts Norristown offers a variety of classes in artistic expression through programming and education. Collaborating with teaching artists we offer education in the following areas: fine arts, computer arts, dance, music, creative cooking, organic gardening, sewing, yoga and more. Through other organizations and the community we encourage the creation, appreciation and understanding of the arts. We seek to nurture a vibrant arts community, foster artistic excellence, and bring people together for a powerful shared experience that inspires a creative exchange of ideas one community at a time.”

Coleman and several volunteers are donating their time, but three full-time staff members are paid, as are the teachers, who are supplied by Tyler School of Art, Vetri Kitchens in Philadelphia and the Norristown Area School District.

“We have a lot of talented people who will be sharing their knowledge of the arts,” Coleman noted. “Quite a few teachers from Norristown will be teaching and working as camp counselors. We have teachers of all different races and cultures, which is something we’re striving for.”

The life skills classes are designed to hopefully motivate careers as well as know-how in many areas, she added.

“People will learn to mend clothing and make decorative items, so that it lends itself to a possible future job or some way that they can make additional income for their families. In the center of the space we rent is a courtyard where we will start an organic garden and then we’ll use the fruits and vegetables in our cooking classes. There was such a need in the community to start an arts center for the kids, and we also wanted to offer adult classes because we thought that adults were not being included.”

CAN springs from the Gabrielle S. Cerminaro Arts Scholarship, founded in 2011 in memory of Gabrielle S. Cerminaro with a mission to help “youth express themselves through the Arts. Each year, the Scholarship makes art education accessible for all children through providing arts scholarships, supplies, and support to local youth organizations.”

Coleman noted that the center will be “the place for your creative journey, to begin or begin again.”

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