NORWICH – A new nonprofit held its event ‘Paint with Police,’ Friday, April 15, and has many other events planned some targeted for specific clientele and others for the entire community.
Members of the Norwich Police Department, Chenango County Sheriff’s Office, and New York State Police attended the event where they were able to interact with a child and paint together.
Creative Works, Inc. officially opened in late January and has begun to target selected groups of individuals. Catering to special needs clients, individuals ages 60 and over, at risk youth and others, the nonprofit seeks to provide artistic services to people who otherwise would not be able to benefit.
Executive Director Jill Kraft said she developed several of the programs years ago and has seen the success they can bring.
“Within the new nonprofit there will be a continuation of programs that I currently run as well as some wonderful new ones,” said Kraft. “The main goal in creating the nonprofit is to seek funding to support these programs; in turn the programs can be offered to the community at large at minimal or no costs.”
The newest addition to programming is the Create with Community Service Workers. This program concentrates its efforts on building positive, lasting community relations directly between families with at risk youth and community service workers using art as its primary tool.
“We believe providing such an “out of the box” setting as our approach of using art to connect at-risk youth with positive experiences will provide a lasting effect of educating them and their families to better understand that our Community Service Workers such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and medical personnel are people too, just doing their job,” said Kraft.
“Our first event for this program, Paint with Police, was held Friday April 15 at The Artists’ Palette. Local law enforcement representatives were paired with children in a casual setting to do a painting and have an informal discussion. “We are looking for referrals for participants and we are very excited about this program,” she said.
Norwich Police Officer Thomas Miller was one member of law enforcement who participated in the event.
“The Paint with Police was a great experience and opportunity for us to all get to learn about each other and see each other out of the realm of our official duties,” said Miller. “It was in a comfortable environment and was very enjoyable.”
Miller lightheartedly added, “I also learned I cannot paint well.”
Two other programs offered by Creative Works, Inc. include The Age of Art program and Art of Me.
The Age of Art program, previously known as “Elder Art”, caters to people 60 and over. The program allows participants to work with varying mediums such as clay, paint, pencil, mixed media, and more. This program offers education as well as social interaction designed to enhance the lives of senior citizens. In its current state the cost of the program is $20 a month and includes materials and instruction.
“We started offering this program almost two years ago free of charge but without additional funding, we have been forced to add the charge to help off-set material costs until further funding can be attained. It is our hope that we can once again offer this for free very soon,” said Kraft.
Art of Me is an expressive art education tool which targets a broad range of audiences and is designed for both children and adults. This program is a conglomerate of art-related activities ranging from drawing and painting, to sculpture and more. The demographics in which this tool would be essential are youth and teens, the geriatric community, individuals suffering from mental illness, and the agencies who provide them care.
“This program is not about the technical aspect of art, but rather the expressive aspects. The creation of art gives people confidence in themselves and I have found throughout the years it is about the process not the outcome,” said Kraft. For the past 6 years this program has been in the community and she said she would love to see it blossom into something larger so more people can take part.
Creative Works, Inc. will be sharing space with The Artists’ Palette at 17-19 South Broad Street in downtown Norwich.
“Art as a whole has transformative potential, this organization, I believe, will alleviate the social culture of our community, empowering citizens to bridge borders through participation, intellectual exploration and leadership development of the arts,” said Kraft.