Edmonds Community College and ArtsNow in Partnership for the Arts by Valerie Read


Edmonds Community College offers students another community resource if a class is not offered on campus. That resource is the ArtsNow, CRI and ULearn program located at the Edmonds Conference Center in Edmonds. ArtsNow, CRI and ULearn offers non credit classes to students who would like to take a class in the arts, learn a new skill, or just for fun. What classes does ArtsNow, CRI and ULearn offer? A student can take a class for painting, ceramics, and sculpture, jewelry and mixed media, drawing and printmaking, performing and media arts, photography, writing, and digital expectations. If an adult wants to continue their education they can take non credit classes through CRI (Creative Retirement Institute). Another program that was added called ULearn offers students non credit classes for home, health, and wellbeing, languages, sports and recreation, and work and finance. ArtsNow offers the Edge Program a three day workshop that teaches the artist how to market, advertise and set up a portfolio for their artwork. ‘I am a metal artist that took the Edge class at Edmonds Community College because no matter what level of artist, Edge Program will show you the way to the next two levels above, “I loved the course even though it was tremendous amounts of homework for me”, I needed the course and I felt very lucky to get in, Edge is only offered in Seattle, Port Townsend and Edmonds and I hear that the PT class cancelled this year...which made the Edmonds opportunity that much more valuable, Edge is exposure to the business, administration and marketing side of art, including organization, legal and all of the other skills that successful artists make seem so easy, Edge brought-in guest speakers who are perfect models, I got up early (not at all my nature...nocturnal) and drove from Lake Tapps for class, but wouldn't have missed a minute, My classmates were fiber artists, wood worker, photographer, paper artist, etc. (nice mix)...nice exposure to the skills they have, one of the final assignments was to prepare a (artist) portfolio for submission/review at SAM...very intimidating, but totally valuable experience; we each got feedback on how to make our presentations stronger, “our Edge class will be showing at the Edmonds Conference Center Jun 17th to kick-off the Edmonds Art Walks and Festival and our class 'gelled' such that our show will move to the Collective Works Gallery of Up Front in Issaquah in September and then to Maple Valley Art Center in October”, I can't say enough about the Edge program that ArtsNow hosted, “TERRIFIC,” says Greg Bartol. This program offers new classes every quarter to artists in the community. ‘The Edge program’s mission is to help artists in our community to become an entrepreneur and learn how to market their artwork,’ said Hayes, ‘One of our students sold a body of artwork that is hanging in an insurance company in Downtown Seattle.’ Debra Calkins is an artist who took the class for the marketing, portfolio and other information provided to put the business side of her art on track. ‘This class is for people already involved in art, what this class does is take your involvement with art to the next level, “I am extremely happy I took this very intense class,” anyone who wants to put their art on a professional level should take the Edge program, I also have 8 people who provided me with support and feedback which is invaluable,’ said Calkins.

On the third Thursday of every month during the Edmonds ArtWalk you can enter the Edmonds Conference Center to view all the artwork, crafts, and quilts hung by the staff on their wall. One of the program coordinators will take you and a guest to each level where you can view sculptures, paintings and hand-made quilts. Edmonds Conference Center is featuring performances from ArtsNow Photography and Performing Arts classes between June 18 to Aug 7 that are featuring a gallery exhibit of photos created by students from Ray Pfortner’s photography class titled Shoot and Show, and performances by Jazz, Tango and Cabaret by pianist Andy Carr with vocalists.

These programs would not be possible if it wasn’t through persistent, creativity, and passion by three important people. They are Gretchen Johnston Director of Community Education and Conference Center, Carol Hayes Program Coordinator of the ArtsNow & Ulearn Program, and Lynn Lagreid Program Coordinator of CRI.

In the beginning of each program there is someone who has an idea, enlist volunteers and support from their community. Edmonds Community College gave money to start the ArtsNow program in 2005 and donated the former Edmonds Floral Center as a home base. Cami Smith started the program with aide from Jack O’Hara and Jerilee Moser. In that same year Carol Hayes and Lynn Lagreid joined the team. ‘All we had was one desk, no structure, no computers, no training, but we trained ourselves by hand typing all the info and asking a local print shop to design the front of the brochures,’ said Hayes. Anyone who came into the Edmonds Conference Center to sign up for class for ArtsNow couldn’t find the classes as they flipped through the book. Then Hayes took over the design of the brochures so that the student could find the classes easier than the older version.

Now the brochure is easier to read for anyone who wants to find a class for visual, performing arts and media. So if there isn’t any classes offered at Edmond Community College than the student can take a class in a foreign language, art, music, and even beer making that ArtsNow offers each semester. ‘Cami started the ArtsNow program with a lot of ideas, before I came on board and it was her persistence that made it possible, it’s thrilling to pull something together from nothing to help students in the arts from our community,’ said Hayes.

Moser is the Vice-President for ArtsNow and she is the one who bought a museum hanging system where the staff hangs artworks and sculptures from local artists, collage from The Fabric of Life in Edmonds and receives two quilts each month from quilt shows. The Edge program enlists the assistance of Meredith Arnold who helps students and instructors. ‘This was Cami’s dream from the start, ‘ said Hays, ‘pulling all the pieces together like a puzzle from volunteers to community supporters who are helping students start up their career in art’. Cami Smith left this year and then Gretchen Johnston came on board as the new Director of the Edmonds Conference Center.

Students can go to the ArtsNow website at http://www.edcc.edu/artsnow/ or pick up a brochure at the advising center in the Lynnwood Building on campus for the class schedule for the ArtsNow. The classes are offered evenings, and weekends at the Edmonds Conference Center. Sometimes Edmonds Community College volunteers to offer the classes to be held on campus. ‘We are grateful for the Art Department for the use of their facilities for art courses and classrooms that are equipped with recording devices for our media classes,’ said Hayes. The feeling of community between Edmonds Community College and ArtsNow was the result of the Bizart a two day conference held last Mar 26th and 27th which was held on campus where students could receive assistance and advice on writing, art or drama from community professionals through workshops, lectures, and panel discussions. The website for information on Bizart is at http://www.bizartinfo.com/.

Gretchen Johnston is meeting with Professor Joanna Goff to discuss new courses for the performing arts at ArtsNow. Johnston says that ArtsNow is open to new ideas from the community on what classes they want to take that is not on the curriculum or to volunteer as a teacher. ‘Joanna Goff and the cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show performed a scene from the play in the banquet room at Edmonds Conference Center and the audience loved it, “none of us could believe that these incredible groups of young people had just started to perform together for about two weeks,” said Johnston.

If anyone would like to contact ArtsNow with new ideas for classes or to teach you can contact them on their website at http://www.edcc.edu/artsnow/instructors.php for an application or contact the staff for new ideas on classes for the visual arts, art, photography, writing or performing arts. ‘One of my proposals is to start a class to help drama students prepare for auditions by booking an auditing, sending a resume with head shots, and study a prepared piece and my second proposal is to start a beginning class to learn how to play guitar and learn jazz or blues,’ said Johnston. ArtsNow is working toward what the community needs and how to aide them in that. “I want to find classes that resonate with people and this will help us hit the right one that fits with what the community needs, our goal is what course can we offer the community and how we can help in providing that service to them,” said Johnston.

Johnston has experience with the classes at ArtsNow because her son took a Voiceover course and the instructor was Katherine Billings from Olympia who teaches Voiceover level one and level two. ‘My son took this class and loved working with Katherine Billings and he is now getting jobs for voiceover work after taking these two courses,’ said Johnston.

Melissa Newell Art Co-Chair and Instructor of the Visual Arts Department at Edmonds Community College were asked about the benefits between the partnership of ArtsNow and Edmonds Community College for any student who is interested in taking an art class. “Students that have a specific medium or skill that wants to follow up on and do not need the credits this is a great option”, in addition for Art students they host a art and business conference every year that is fantastic for students, they also work with the Edge program that helps artists in the area of professional development, this is an outstanding service to artists and well respected program, and I meet with Carol and Gretchen a couple of times a year to coordinate on scheduling and making suggestions for courses if we hear of particular interests,” said Newell.


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