As we enter into a new year we are reflecting on 2020 and all the challenges it presented not only for The Art Factory, but for our community as a whole. As always we are especially thinking of the children. When our doors had to unexpectedly shut in March we sat in our beloved studio and heard what we so rarely hear – silence. We met to discuss how to keep The Art Factory going and what the future would hold… and how much we missed the beautiful sound of children at play. We just had to hold on until we could hear it again. Our team got to work searching for our path back to that glorious sound.
Our founder and leader, Melissa Mazar, has always impressed upon us that the children are our teachers and that we should follow their examples in our program development. So, we try new things. We are not afraid of failing – that is where learning happens. We focus on the process and not the product created. We mess about and play, searching for joy in the simple. No idea is too big. This philosophy led us to our first innovation: Art Factory at Home.
For 10 years children have been coming to The Art Factory to experience process-based, child-led, art activities. But if the children can’t come to our studio, why not bring the studio to the children? We began the seemingly impossible task of scaling down all of our magical and beloved studio activities to fit in a portable bin families could set up at home. With so many years thinking outside the box under our belt, we now faced the incredible challenge of thinking’ inside’ the bin.
The first line of Art Factory at Home bins were created and, as always, we were blown away by the support of our community. We were soon packing our cars full of hairdressing heads, mud pie kitchens, potion creation stations, and more, feeling like fairies sprinkling Art Factory magic around our city. While we didn’t get to hear the children playing we were overjoyed to receive pictures of the children enjoying the bins. Thank you notes and masterpieces drawn by the children renting the bins soon hung around our studio.
Since those first few months of development we have refined and expanded our bins, making online booking fast and convenient. As our children transition back into online learning for a time we know that children, teachers, and parents alike face new challenges. An abundance of screen time looms. We are so happy to be able to continue to offer expertly crafted sensory and play-based activities that are easy to set up and require little to no clean up. Providing children with a much needed avenue to explore and learn the way children were built to. Our activities dovetail perfectly into kindergarten and early elementary curriculums.
We of course did not stop there! Next, we reimagined our summer camp and created many new programs in order to safely welcome the children back into the studio… more on that next week!