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Creative Arts Center to reopen April 19; instructors sought for programming

WESTFIELD-A “soft opening” of the Creative Arts Center on Elm Street is planned April 19.

“The Westfield on Weekends (WOW) board of directors approved the reopening of the center at their February meeting,” said Kathi Bradford, who serves as program coordinator for the center. Since that time, board members have been reconnecting with instructors, interested students, volunteers and helpers.

“We determined that a soft opening, to see the interest of the community during this time of COVID, would be best,” said Bradford.

A view inside the Creative Arts Center that will reopen April 19. (KATHI BRADFORD PHOTO)

The center closed last spring due to the pandemic and directors had hoped to reopen with some online programs last fall.

“As things worsened with the pandemic, the decision was made to remain closed until we could offer a more comprehensive program for our participants,” said Bradford.

Leading up to the April 19 reopening, many tasks were required to ensure the art space would be compliant with state COVID-19 guidelines.

“The Creative Arts Center is part of the Westfield on Weekends nonprofit organization and has a committee that handles the logistics of the program, building and operational needs and rental of the space to the community,” said Bradford, noting committee members Barbara Trant, Jason Polan, Amber Danahey and Bob Plasse were among those who lent a helping hand.

Bradford also acknowledged Sherry Elander, transition specialist of the Westfield Public Schools Community Based Transition Services Program, along with post graduate leaders from the program including Connor Jones, Shaun Stebbins, and Dakota Noel, as well as Kevin Pereira, an occupational therapist assistant intern from Springfield Technical Community College, who worked “to make sure the building is clean, safe and ready to open.”

All safety precautions are being taken as the doors to the Creative Arts Center reopens April 19. (KATHI BRADFORD PHOTO)

Additionally, Bradford said many members of the board have assisted with website updates and social media posts among other tasks.

Bradford said as area residents transition back to a new normal, both on-site and online classes, workshops and events will be offered.

“During this short time, we will be offering a few of our most popular classes to begin to assess the readiness for a more, in-depth program,” said Bradford.

Center leaders plan to survey the community in May and June for new ideas, instructors and programs and will take the input to create a “robust program” for the fall and spring schedules.

Registration is online at https://www.wow-creativearts.com and programming will be updated as new offerings are added.

“For some of our classes, we have a per course format and for others a six- to eight-week program,” said Bradford, adding, “We are looking to fit the interest of the diverse Westfield community.”

Starting April 19, Richard Nowak will offer a beginning acrylics class followed by intermediate acrylics on April 20. Classes are from 6-8 p.m. and are limited to six participants at this time.

“We have a few openings and welcome walk-ins for the class,” said Bradford.

On April 28, Cathy Guidetti will offer an intermediate watercolor class for six weeks.

“She will continue with a week off in-between until mid-November,” said Bradford. “Very soon, we will also offer Cathy’s beginning watercolor classes on Saturday mornings and workshops on Working with Scratchboards and Making Watercolor Cards.”

Bradford added that other offerings in the works include classes titled “How to Explain Math To Your Student” and “Spanish for Travel.” Also, yoga classes are planned, as well as programs on quilting, beer making and wine tasting.

For area residents who are skilled in an area of art, music, dance or another program of interest, contact Bradford via email to [email protected]

Classes will resume at the Creative Arts Center on April 19. (KATHI BRADFORD PHOTO)

“If you are looking to rent space for a meeting or would like to offer your crafts for our annual holiday store, let us know,” she said.

Bradford emphasized that the board is following all guidelines regarding COVID-19 including requiring masks while in the center, providing hand sanitizer stations, increasing cleaning, limiting class sizes, and ensuring socially distanced tables and chairs.

“The center is especially valuable for the city of Westfield because, along with WOW and the many offerings including Pumpkinfest and Decemberfest, the center provides a hub of activity by and for the community,” said Bradford, noting the varied classes, workshops and programs bring people to the downtown businesses and restaurants.

“Our location provides a visible reminder of the excitement of learning at any age, the diversity of our community, and the passionate commitment of the Westfield on Weekends board and volunteers to provide exciting events in our part of the state,” she said.

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