The COVID-19 pandemic caused us to close our doors to the public for 6 long months. We kept the spirit of the Art Factory alive through the Art Factory at Home program and eventually camps. However, the true heart and soul of our studio has always been the drop-in visitors; children that come with their caregivers to explore our space at their own pace and in their own way. With the creation of “bubbles” of people that could come into contact with each other we finally had an opportunity to welcome families back.
For the health and safety of all we decided it would be best to limit the number of people visiting to a single “bubble”. This would ensure that caregivers and children would not need to be concerned about physically distancing from others and we could have more control over cleaning and sanitizing between visitors. To allow us to continue operating while keeping the cost of visiting more accessible, our studio was divided in half, allowing for a bubble of 10 to visit on either side. At the entrance you either turn left to enter our Sensory Area, or right to go to the Imagination Area.
We began booking our 90 minute visits and were delighted to see old and new friends back in our space. The tiniest members of our community were back and showing how strong and resilient they are. Many caregivers expressed to us how important they now saw open-ended, child-led play to be, and that they were seeing our studio with renewed appreciation. Of course we are always happy to be recognized for our dedication and hard work, but it is truly wonderful to see children’s play and art valued.
Play is how children (and often adults) learn. It is how they explore their environment, experiment with new ideas, and cement their knowledge of themselves and their world. Every child is innately curious and creative, they need no instruction in this. Our role as the adults in their world is simply to guide, to foster environments that allow them to safely explore, and to let go of our expectations about what art (and science, math, etc) is and how it is done.
At the Art Factory we have built a place where adults can do just that without worrying about their home being covered in the mess that is a natural by-product of a child’s play. We are currently unable to welcome visitors into our space again due to another lockdown in our area, but are eagerly looking forward to seeing this magical play happening again soon. In the meantime, we are loving the messages and pictures we get of children enjoying rented and purchased items in their homes. Have you incorporated any Art Factory magic into your home? Let us know below!