By Chelsea Elledge
REO Town reporter- Listen Up, Lansing
LANSING– REACH Studio Art Center, located in REO TOWN, is a non-profit community art center with programs for adults and children as young as two.
Program Director, Joy Baldwin, said, “We try to make REACH a safe, positive place for kids to go.”
REACH is also a place where kids can heal Colby Castillo, a 13-year-old sci-fi makeup artist, “When I got into a car accident and broke my back all I had was art.”
“I can be open with anyone here, and they don’t care!” said Castillo
According to Baldwin, the teen program at REACH allows students to make art on a competitive, professional level.
“The things we learn here are more like learning to present to clients and working together,” said 15-year-old REACH student Tamara Hunt.
“They’re presenting their ideas to officials. For example, all of the BWL commissioners had to vote on their artistic skills and their drawing,” said Baldwin. “So there’s like this competitive factor and they’re really getting a taste of what it’s like to create public art.”
Challenges in the community
In 2013, REACH received a $75,000 grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation.
The grant allowed them to buy the block where their studio resides. The funding also allowed them to create a safe courtyard for children to play in during summer programs, according to Baldwin.
“We were having to turn people away,” said Baldwin. “All of our classes were full. We only had the one the classroom. So it was a good problem to have, but we need more space, we need to be able to offer more.”
They are still looking to raise more money for the expansion, however.
“Money is always the biggest problem,” Baldwin said. “It’s really hard to find funding that will cover bricks and mortar and buildings, people would much rather give money to serve children,” she said.
In the fall of 2014, REACH was able to raise $48,000 through the Crowd Funding Campaign, which was doubled by the Patronicity Campaign in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, generating a total of $96,000.
According to Baldwin marketing and community awareness are also challenges that REACH faces. “Making sure that people know what we are, and why we are here, and that we are here for them.”
REACH offers affordable services
REACH has designed unique programs that will fit the needs of people who cannot commit to attending classes beforehand.
Baldwin stated that in previous years, classes were only available by pre-registering, however, beginning Feb. 18, REACH will launch “Walk-in Wednesdays”.
These donation-funded workshops designed to, “suit the needs of that population that just wants to be able to show up when they can make it,” said Baldwin.” If they can afford to donate $5, that’s great. If not, that’s fine too.”
Baldwin said, “Our mission is to make art accessible to everyone, so we don’t want money to be a barrier for those that might need to access the arts.”
In an effort to appeal to a broader range of people, all youth programs are now on a sliding scale, based on income and household size for participants who use Bridge Cards.
In addition to workshops, REACH also offers custom art events and workshops.
According to Baldwin, REACH participates in several events in the Lansing area. “We do free events all over the place, like the East Lansing art fair and the MSU Science Fair, the Jazz Fest, a variety of events in the city”
“We have an art truck and every summer we go to five different sites; four Lansing Parks and Recreation, and one Boys and Girls Club site, and it’s free to them,” said Baldwin. “We write grants to fund our staff to do this so that we can bring art to kids in the city who are not getting it through reach.”
Getting involved with REACH
Morgan Scallen, who started with REACH in November of 2014 as an AmeriCorps Vista, said she was looking for opportunities to serve in the community, when she came across REACH.
“It’s really exciting seeing the kids get excited about learning new things,” she said.
Sarah Garcia, a junior at Michigan State University, began as a volunteer and is now an intern at REACH.
“I love this place! It’s such a great place to foster creativity!” said Garcia.