Creative 360 invites community to explore inclusive Artshop classes

As part of Creative 360’s mission, a nonprofit community arts and wellness organization in Midland, is the belief that creativity and the arts should be accessible for all. Their upcoming event, Artshop Open House, invites the community – all ages and abilities -- to visit their center, meet the teachers and check out the classrooms. Artshop is an inclusive program offering arts education to all people, including persons with disabilities. The open house takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 9 from 4 to 6 p.m. at their new location, 5501 Jefferson Avenue. There is no registration or signup required. 
Creative 360 Executive Director Laura Vosejpka
Laura Vosejpka, executive director, says Artshop started 15 years ago, designed to be an inclusive program versus a sheltered workshop. “We teach high-level art skills, but we break it down into smaller, slower chunks. Each class is like a standalone class,” she says. “Each week is kind of like its own class, so that way people can join whenever they want to. We want everybody to feel safe, supported and like they’re going to be successful with whatever they’re trying to learn in an Artshop class.”

Although Artshop has been around for a decade and a half, the upcoming open house is a unique event that hasn’t happened in quite some time, says Vosejpka. “We wanted to make sure that everyone in the community was aware of the Artshop program that we offer here at Creative 360,” she says. “We thought that it would be a great opportunity for people to come on, see the space, meet some of the teachers and see some of the projects that we do, and some of the artwork that we've created in those classes. We'll also give them the opportunity to sign up if they're ready to sign up, or they can take information home.”

Artshop Open House will be held Tues, January 9 from 4:00-6:00pm
Some of the January classes include Let’s Move!, hosted by Christina Compean, featuring dance, fitness games and yoga, and the popular Clay Handbuilding class, hosted by Leslie Ricketts, where students learn the basics of ceramics. Vosejpka says the winter class lineup also features some new additions. “We’re going to be offering a class that we call Melody Makers, which is essentially just like a sing-along karaoke class. We're going to do some more complicated songs than we do in our other music class that we call Jam Session. So I noticed that that's become really popular with some of the other student groups around town, for people to get together and kind of do karaoke with Disney songs, Beatles songs or holiday songs. We thought it would be a nice opportunity to do that.”

There’s also a new type of class being introduced to Artshop, called the Learn and Create series. This new series has a theme, so participants can learn art skills and a new subject matter.  “Our first class in this session is called Birds, Birds, Birds,” Vosejpka says. “We’ll have a guest who comes each week, sharing something important about the life of birds and how we interact with them. We’ll have guests from the nature center, and have a chance to make bird houses, feeders, and mixed media pieces featuring birds. It will still be an arts class, but you’ll also learn a little bit about the topic as well.”

Part of the accessibility within the nonprofit also focuses on affordability. “It’s really important to us that the cost of a program doesn't keep people away,” Vosejpka says. “One way we make sure that we can make our classes affordable to people is that if they are associated with Community Mental Health, and if they do have a community living support stipend, they can use those dollars to pay for the classes that they take with us.”

Creative 360 also offers scholarships to all programs at the center. Those needing assistance simply need to reach out to the center about a scholarship, which typically pays 50% of the class fees. Supplies are not needed to be purchased outside of Artshop classes, and are included in the class.

“We really believe that creativity is in everyone, and that if you can put a lot of people together in a class who have differences, everyone in that class is going to learn a little bit of something new, and have their creativity influenced.”

The range of participants in most Artshop classes spans generations and skill sets. Everyone from retirees, those who have never picked up a paintbrush, older homeschooled children, and those with cognitive, emotional or physical disabilities. “It’s just such a wonderful mix of people who are all there for the same reason – they’re there because they want to try this new thing, and do it in a way that feels fun, not scary.”

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at