Be Kind Create flower sign at BAYarts

Let Art Unite Us

It takes a village. An over-used phrase? Maybe some places, but not here. Here in Bay Village we walk the talk. Granted, for most of us Bay folks, we live in the best of times. The bubble, we call it with a sheepish grin.

Two weeks ago, I attended a community book discussion at the Bay Library. The topic was social infrastructure and the book we read was Palaces for the People. In this book, the author shows the importance of “the hidden networks and taken-for-granted systems that support all variety of collective life.” During the discussion, I proudly spoke of our creative programming at BAYarts and our beautiful campus nestled near the lake. From the back of the room, a lady from Cleveland spoke up.

“Social infrastructure doesn’t have to be a place you know,” she remarked. The people attending the discussion, mostly from Bay, looked dubious. She went on to describe how a group of residents from her former Cleveland neighborhood had been dispersed by gentrification over the years, but had made a pact to remain a support system for each other despite the distance and their circumstances. Still not sure if I considered her example social infrastructure, I tucked her comment in the back of my mind and continued on with my busy week on campus.

Not long after, the threat of the corona virus began to seep into our consciousness. The worst of times appeared to loom on the horizon. As conditions worsened and Governor DeWine and the CDC recommended social distancing, we at BAYarts agonized over the decision to temporarily close. It went against our purpose – to be that place where people can come in times of stress or adversity and find solace in artistic endeavors. It was then that the woman’s words from the book discussion the week before rang in my ears, “You don’t need a physical location to remain connected.”

Art on the Go BAYarts

We reached out to our creative community of staff, volunteers and teachers for ideas. Karen Petkovic, our Creative Director, posted a virtual tour of the 2020 Juried Show and posted it on Facebook. Linda Goik, our Education Director, came up with the idea of ART ON THE GO BAGS for our young artists. She and her daughter Lauren spent the weekend putting together 200 bags and placed them on the Huntington porch, available for pick up today.

As I went out early this morning to walk the dog and check in on the campus buildings, I was amazed by what I saw! One by one, cars were pulling into the BAYarts parking lot. People were walking up the street from the neighborhood with their kids in tow. I saw children walking away with little smiley-face paper bags filled with art supplies. I heard one mom say, “let’s do an art project today.” The kids enthusiastically agreed and disappeared down the sidewalk. Within a half an hour, all the bags were gone. Many families lingered on campus, albeit keeping a six foot distance, greeting one another with a smile and friendly hello.

BAYarts will continue to be a sanctuary in uncertain times and we are committed to staying true to our mission by maintaining a creative and connected community of people. Art unites us all and becomes more meaningful to us because we’ve made a connection with one another. Stay safe and be creative! The best of times are yet to come.