Kim Creighton has been a member of the community since 1989. Over the years, she’s realized the area lacked extracurricular activities and creative outlets for the youth.
“There’s no movie theaters, no arcades, no bowling alleys, no skating rinks,” Creighton said. “Nothing to do.”
Creighton had a solution to the problem. She was going to open a nonprofit community arts center for children and adults to tap into their creative thoughts and energies.
Along with friends and volunteers from the community, Creighton renovated and transformed the 6,000 square foot warehouse on the corner of Lehigh Avenue and Belgrade, into four visual arts classrooms and an art gallery. The Portside Art Center opened their doors in January of 2008.
The Center offers evening adult classes, a youth summer arts camp, the ArtsMobile outreach initiative, an annual community arts festival and a 42-week after-school arts program for kids.
The After School Arts Program introduces children to the fundamentals of arts education through a hands-on visual arts curriculum. Their 42-week program coordinates with the seven elements of art from line, shape, form, value, space, color and texture. The students get to experience these elements in their drawing, painting, printmaking, clay sculpting and so much more.
“More than making art, they really love learning about art and talking about art,” said Kelsie Lilly, lead teaching artist with the program.
Many of their lessons are constructed around well-known artists enabling students to develop an appreciation for artists, art history and other cultures.
Portside ASAP encourages parents to enroll their kids into the program to allow their child to experience the benefits of 21st century skills. Portside helps to build critical thinking and communication skills, foster opportunities for creativity, collaboration, investigation and an outlet to express their emotions.
Arts education also enhances child development by improving motor skills, fosters language development, strengthens decision making skills, creates opportunities for visual learning, promotes inventiveness, builds cultural awareness and enhances academic performance.
“I think making art and being able to express our feelings in it is the best part,” Georgia Hanson, a student involved in the program, said.
Portside believes strongly that receiving a high quality arts education will benefit children and help to build a stronger foundation for success in their future educational and career undertakings.
“They’re definitely learning about styles and artists that again I probably didn’t learn until college,” Mica Hanson, father of Georgia, said.
Kim has dedicated most of her life to running the Portside Arts Center and seeing it become a central component in the community today.
“I do it all for the kids and I love every single minute of it!” Creighton said.
-Text, images and video by Morgan Kruczek.