Chestertown RiverArts is pleased to announce a new mission statement: “Growing community, creativity, and connection through the Arts.” This statement is active, expansive, and reflects our understanding that the creative impulse is a human instinct through which we share our experiences, our emotions, and our compassion. The Arts bring people together and teach us to recognize ourselves in others.
Although this new mission was in the works before the start of the pandemic, its adoption seems particularly fortuitous this spring. In a statement released by Chestertown RiverArts, “What better time than an unprecedented moment of physical distancing and multilayered global crises to articulate our commitment to community and connection, with the foundation of creativity and artistry underlying it all? These words will be a valuable guide as we continue to reimagine RiverArts’ programs and activities through the coronavirus, the related economic strain, the struggle for racial justice, and beyond.”
In the best of times, Chestertown RiverArts strives to connect people with each other and with new ideas, as inspiration to learn new art techniques and new ways and reasons for making art, and to build our shared sense of community. Maria Wood, executive director, shares, “We have shared thoughtfully themed exhibits, skill-building classes, and social events with you year after year. We all learn about art, about each other, and about our community in doing so.”
In these unprecedented times, our community has needed more, so when the pandemic began, RiverArts quickly curated and shared ideas for creativity at home with 30 Days of Art. They keep the arts community connected through Daily Dose emails, sharing what members are creating and discussing.
RiverArts also facilitates conversations through its weekly online RiverArts Salons on thought-provoking topics with invited local experts. Salon attendees have enjoyed interacting with poet Meredith Davies Hadaway, American Visionary Art Museum Founder Rebecca Hoffberger, artists Mary and Howard McCoy, Professor Bill Schindler, gallerist Carla Massoni, and Bayside HOYAS President John Queen.
Many RiverArts members have generously given their time, talent, energy, and creativity to the community since the beginning of the pandemic shutdown. The Photography Club has seamlessly moved online, not just adapting to the change in circumstances, but growing the club in the face of adversity. Instructors are recording how-to videos, providing art tips, and reimagining classes, all to promote building new skills in both art creation and in art marketing.
A newly-formed Chestertown Craft Club has Zoomed to create together. Another new creation is the RiverArts Arcade, a shopping solution where members’ work can be viewed and purchased. The Clay Studio has people creating beautiful pieces through hand-building and working on wheels at home. The KidSpot team distributes hands-on art projects, all supplies included, to kids in Chestertown.
Responding to the crisis of racism in the country, Maria explains, “We support the fundamental change necessary to bring about true racial justice in our social, cultural, judicial, and political systems. And we are working with community partners to do our part to provide meaningful and lasting change.”
Maria continues, “We believe that Art in all its forms is essential for expressing the whole range of human emotions and responses to the good and bad we find in the world, and for exploring truths and building bridges from where we are to where we need to be. We celebrate the art and artists that help us understand where we are and take the steps toward something better.”
Chestertown RiverArts is a community arts center serving Kent County and beyond with exhibits, classes, children’s arts activities, and a Clay Studio. Visit RiverArts online at www.ChestertownRiverArts.org, call 410-778-6300 or email info@ChestertownRiverArts.org.