New art program director looking to expand CAT offerings

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Community Arts of Tecumseh (CAT) has been shoring up its staff leadership, and Linda Knape began her new role as Art Program Director in December.

Knape was previously employed as an elementary educator at St. Joseph Academy, and said that art was always part of the curriculum she taught. She also has served as an instructor for some preschool CAT classes during the past year.

“Children have always been my main interest, and art is just one exploration that allows them to go and be who they are, and I think that’s so important,” she said. “We shouldn’t just have cookie-cutter activities all the time. Children need a chance to express themselves in their own unique ways, as does anyone. No one is exactly the same.”

Knape will be working with both children and adults in her new role and has been meeting with instructors to assemble the Winter and Spring 2014 Class Schedule. She’s also making contacts with potential instructors as well.

“It’s amazing how many artists are available in this area,” said Knape. “One of the goals we will be pursuing is to find ways to expand the classes that CAT offers, and so we are exploring new ideas with our instructors and other artists in the community. Down the road, we may also bring in people from other communities who will learn what Tecumseh has to offer.”

Knape said in some respects, CAT is still a “great little hidden secret” that not everyone is yet aware of, although more are learning about the Art Center in John Smith Park since the AJ Smith Recreation Center opened up and they share a parking lot.

CAT attempts to offer a nice assortment of class opportunities as well as its summer art camps (in June and July, to include music camps as well this year), an art fair and an art and music festival. One idea for the future may include an art camp for adults.

“We even have people calling now saying, ‘I have cabin fever. What can I do?’” said Kristin Schick, vice-president on the CAT board. “Some will even offer suggestions.”

Knape said if CAT can make some of the new classes happen, it will.

“One of the positive things we have going for us is we won’t just shoot down ideas,” she said. “We’re willing to look at making things happen as long as we can get support from the community to come out and participate.”

CAT participants don’t necessarily have to consider themselves artistic to take part, and Knape and the staff and instructors get to observe the discovery process as students learn and create.

“There’s that glow about them and a sense of satisfaction when they realize they have created something, especially if they are a person for whom art is not their forte,” said Knape. “When they see what they created, there’s a sense of accomplishment — in both children and adults. Oftentimes, they’ll ask, ‘now what can I do? What else can I explore? Where can I go from here?’ And the goal is always to leave them wanting more so they’ll be invited back to explore.”

Knape said she was open to the new position because it would be a new challenge for her.

“It’s different from working with children on an everyday basis, and I knew I would be working with some people I already knew,” she said. “Tecumseh is just such a great place and I’ll enjoy going back to the community and sharing what’s happening out here.”

The new brochure is available at the CAT center, 804 N. Evans St., as well as at various community locations, and classes and events may also be viewed online at TecumsehArts.org. For more information, call 423.0000 or email info@tecumseharts.org.




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