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The Power of Responsive Collaborations: Supporting COVID-19 Adaptations in Glen Arbor

[Image description: A white outdoor tent around tables and chairs set-up for Glen Arbor Arts Center's Outdoor Learning Classroom.]

In response to COVID-19, Glen Arbor Arts Center (GAAC) worked swiftly to shift its learning to an outdoor setting, creating a new Outdoor Learning Classroom with collaborative funding from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and Rotary Charities of Traverse City.

“By adapting to indoor COVID requirements while embracing the outdoors, GAAC is using ordinary spaces for more opportunities to offer year-round art and entertainment enrichment with something for everyone,” said Sarah Kime, Executive Director of GAAC.

The GAAC’s Outdoor Learning Classroom features a tented outdoor classroom area, an outdoor gallery, a mini masterpiece exhibit, and 6ft. Apart Art pop-ups. To create a comfortable, safe experience for visitors, tents, heaters, and directional signs were funded through a Rotary Charities Seed Grant and the Community Foundation’s Urgent Needs Fund.

GAAC originally approached both Rotary Charities and the Community Foundation to support the project. To reduce a duplication of efforts and ensure full project funding, Rotary Charities and the Community Foundation quickly came together to support GAAC with a total of nearly $10,000 in shared grantmaking.

“The partnership between the Community Foundation, GAAC, and Rotary Charities shows the importance of responsive collaborations—that when we work together we are better positioned to serve our community,” said Steve Wade, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation.

GAAC recently held an all-day Introduction to Silversmithing class at its Outdoor Learning Classroom. The course accommodated seven safely spaced community members as instructor, Ken Schug guided the group through the steps of creating a pendant. According to the GAAC, participants left with a basic knowledge of silversmithing and can build on those skills to continue creating independently.

"COVID-19 challenged organizations to adapt learning and engagement to outdoor spaces, and it reawakened us to see beautiful spaces around us in a different way,” said Sakura Takano, CEO of Rotary Charities. GAAC's outdoor learning opportunities invite people to reconnect to each other and the natural world, and is a testament to the resourcefulness of our nonprofit partners."

[Image description: Two Glen Arbor Arts Center participants engaging in a metalsmithing workshop.]

(All photos: Glen Arbor Arts Center)