Fall is one of our favorite times at Creative 360. As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, folks think about heading indoors for their fun. Our Express Yourself Artshop classes get busier and we welcome guests back for book talks, radio shows, and the ever popular Second Hand Picasso sale in November.
Where we are this fall is very different from last fall! Instead of canceling most of our indoor events or offering them online through Zoom, we are welcoming guests back using safe protocols. We have new classes on the Artshop schedule, like the wonderful Surprise Box Challenge (it’s like Chopped! but with art!) and our beautiful community mural is almost complete. We welcomed nearly 35 students this summer for Theater Camp, Magical Creatures Camp, and Dragon Camp and we are partnering with the Grace A Dow Memorial Library and SVSU for the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program! And we just opened our first ever Emerging Artists Exhibition with more than 45 works from 23 new artists. As usual, all of these creative opportunities are at low or no cost and we continue to offer scholarships for all of our educational programs so that everyone in our community has the chance to experience the wonder of the creative process.
Last year we asked for your support and you responded. It is because of your generosity that we are still here for our community. And we have been excellent stewards of your gifts as well as working hard to secure our own funding. Our 2020 external grant award total was 6.5 times what it was in 2019 and we are on track to meet our very aggressive budgeted grants total for 2021. Our small team is working very hard to serve our community for at least a second 25 years.
We do have some significant challenges. Creative 360 moved into our Alden B Dow building in the winter of 2004. The building, which is as old as I am (1962), needs a new energy efficient heating and cooling system and we are planning immediate repairs to our roof and chimney. We have applied for external funding for this capital improvement project as well as an energy efficiency grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation. We were awarded the funds from the MACF and we just learned on Friday that we were one of the lucky 40% of Michigan arts organizations who applied for capital improvement funding and received it!
The Capital Improvement Grant requires a 1:1 match and that is where we are counting on your support.
Our goal this fall is to raise the $45,000 we need to match the Capital Improvement Grant as well as the operating funds we need for the 2022 year. In effect, we are looking to nearly double our fundraising capacity from the previous few years. You do not need to be a math major to figure out that this means we need MORE donors and/or BIGGER donations. And we hope we can count on you.
Last year we were not able to meet ‘in-person’ and we asked you to help us by sending pre-printed postcards to people you know, asking them to support our mission. You did this and we saw support come in from all over the country! This year we are offering 360 Hours of Awesome – 15 days of the kinds of Creative 360 events you have come to know and love: yoga, concerts, old time radio, book talks, classes….We hope that you will find something on the list that you love and that you will be able to come and enjoy some time with us. This year we are also asking for your feedback as we move into the next year and the new reality that COVID has brought to us. What kinds of things would you like to see from us? What are we doing well? What could we be doing better?
As I come up on 16 months as the Executive Director of Creative 360, I can honestly say that each day I have spent here has been a gift. As a patron of Creative 360 I was always aware of the wonderful programs, classes and performances available and believed that the community was so fortunate to have such a warm and welcoming arts and wellness center. Now that I have the privilege of getting into the details, I understand how truly amazing this organization is. The experiences that can be had here are more than just learning art or seeing a show. We provide a supportive and caring environment where people and relationships can grow.
You can find a full schedule of our 360 Hours of Awesome on our website! We hope to see you during these 15 days. We thank you for believing in us and all that we do and for all of the support you have given us over the years.
Executive Director/Creative 360