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New art classes offered at Red Rock

Above: On Tuesday afternoon an art education class took place in the new art room at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. Ela Walters-Hinz, 10, left, rolls clay through a clay conditioning machine. Beside her Violet Olson, 6, and Elise Schmidt, 7, also work with clay.

FAIRMONT — The Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont has a new art room in the lower level and on Tuesday the first art education class of the season took place there.

“We really want to provide opportunities in all areas, visual, performing and arts education,” said executive director Sonja Fortune.

Typically the Red Rock has only held art classes in the summer, but when everything was shut down during Covid, Fortune said they found people enjoyed doing art education in smaller groups.

“We followed the school safe learning plan. When we weren’t able to hold concerts, we could do art classes as long as kids were socially distanced and wore a mask. We found that people were excited and interested in art classes,” she said.

While they were shut down, and with the help of additional grant money, Fortune said they decided to focus more on art education. They converted a lower level conference room into an art room.

“With our floor project and ongoing pandemic, we kind of decided we’re not going to do a whole lot this winter as far as performances and visual arts, but we feel like we can continue to do arts education,” Fortune said.

She said they do get some help from the Martin County Youth Foundation and other grant funds so they’re able to offer the classes for a lower cost.

Fortune said people need to realize that they’re paying an instructor and need to make enough money to cover the cost of the instructor and the cost of the supplies, which are provided. However, through community partners they also offer scholarships.

“If there’s an interest, families are welcome to apply for the scholarships. We do know often times art education is crushed by sports and we believe that creativity and opening up your mind to exploring is equally as important as sports,” Fortune said.

She said they want to have funds available so that people can do both arts and sport.

Right now their classes are geared toward young children, but Fortune said their goal is to get more people involved, both in classes and as teachers.

“Not necessarily with a professional technique. Our goal is to have fun and creative experiences in a relaxing atmosphere,” Fortune said.

Fortune said they currently have one committed instructor, Jen Wedel, who has taught the summer children programs for years as her passion lies with early childhood.

Fortune said they’re also working on being able to offer birthday party packages where people can make a project with an instructor. They also want to start adding adult classes in the future. Fortune said they’re trying to kick start an art club for adults.

“We want this to be a community art center. Instead of reaching out to instructors from Mankato and beyond, we really want to see people in our own community come forward to share their talents,” Fortune said.

Right now they’re offering classes through CER, but Fortune said they plan to add classes and advertise them on their website, redrockcenter.org, and on their Facebook page.

“We hope that there will be enough of an interest that we can offer year-round classes,” Fortune said.

Open Studio Day is also a new offering. On the second Saturday of the month, the art room will be open from 9 a.m. to noon so that young artists can come into the studio and explore. Prompts will be set up to stimulate creativity and staff will be there to help facilitate projects. The first one will take place this Saturday, Oct. 9.

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