It’s more than art

Megan Shealy creates art in the clay studio at the Newberry Arts Center.

Marguerite Palmer shows off a recycled art project using plastic bottles created by fourth and fifth grade students at Gallman Elementary School with Ann Abbott.

NEWBERRY — A year ago, Marguerite Palmer could have never pictured the success of what is now the Newberry Arts Center.

Just over one year ago, Palmer said they held a wine and cheese event at the Firehouse Conference Center to inform the community of their goals for an arts center.

Today, the program has gone from a dream to a reality.

“I think it’s pretty exciting that within a year, we’ve gone from an idea, to last summer being in the old Parks Recreation and Tourism building to now being in this location,” Palmer said. “It just shows how important the city feels that arts programs are and how much there has been a need for this in the community.”

Located at 1107 College St., the Newberry Arts Center has a full summer schedule of art camps being held weekly for the 10 weeks of summer. Palmer said there is something for all age groups.

“We start having camp on June 8 and the last camp ends on August 14. Each week is for ages 4-16 and we have a different theme for every week so parents can sign their kids up for a one-week camp or they can do several camps throughout the summer,” Palmer said.

Each of the 10 weeks of camp has a different theme, Palmer said. Campers can choose to come in the morning or the afternoon during that week for camp. The theme will be the same, but the two camps will be separate.

Palmer said they have four people teaching this summer, with each of them either having an art degree or having a good bit of experience in art. The teachers will be Megan Gordon, Katie Walters, Bridgett Carey and Melissa Brewer.

Gordon already teaches for the NAC doing beginning pottery classes and afternoon art classes for children.

“I couldn’t do it without her,” Palmer said of Gordon.

One theme in particular is called Recycle Object Art, Palmer said where campers will take objects that would normally be taken to a recycling place and turn those items into art.

There will be two themed ‘Sand, Sun and Water’ camps where the focus will be on items from the ocean, using seashells and fun things you can do with sunlight, Palmer said.

“Art camps and programs for kids are important because they develop language skills, small motor skills and problem solving skills,” Palmer said. “It leads to the higher order thinking that’s needed when you get into the upper grades of school.”

Palmer said art hits on topics of math, science and history, which is something most people do not realize.

To hold a spot at these camps, Palmer said participants need to register at the city of Newberry’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department, 1323 College St.

To make sure that there is plenty of space, Palmer said children need to be registered one week before the camp starts. This also helps them ensure that they have plenty of materials needed for each student.

“We’re keeping the numbers low in the camps to make sure that kids get good attention at what they’re doing,” Palmer said.

Games will be played, there will be music involved as well as snacks at the camps, Palmer said and that it would be a fun learning environment for those involved.

Palmer said she also wanted to encourage churches and individuals to think about sponsoring a child for an art class.

“There might be someone in their church or community who is artistic, but may not have the means to be a part of an art camp for the summer,” Palmer said.

While they were currently not in the position to give things away, Palmer said they have cut the price as much as possible for the camps so that children would be able to participate.

In addition to their summer camps, the NAC will have two pottery classes offered for teenagers – one being a four-day camp and the other, a four-week camp that meets twice a week.

The four-day camp will be held June 8-11 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The four-week camp will be held July 7-30 and meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon for ages 15-18.

Palmer said they’re trying to include the community with as many different things as possible. The NAC has done an art program with the Newberry Literacy Council and will have YMCA campers there in July taking a special class as a part of their camp.

“We’ve done a lot of the painting parties and are still doing birthday painting parties for kids,” Palmer said.

Currently, Palmer said she is putting together a package of painting parties for high school graduates so they can get together with their friends to do a painting to take to their college dorm to remember their friends from high school.

Palmer said that working with the NAC, she has seen a lot. Whether it was people who have started classes at a difficult time in their life or newcomers to the area that have taken classes as a way to meet people in Newberry.

“There have been some really good stories of people who have come through here,” Palmer said.

For more information about getting involved with the NAC or registering for classes or camps, contact Newberry PRT at 803-321-1015.