"These weeks I have seen so much creativity. Not just in people crafting visual projects, but thinking differently about how to be in community and help one another."
Tell us a little about your business/organization.
ArtHaus offers creativity classes for 2 year old through adulthood. Visual arts, writing, theater. We have a studio/makerspace, ceramic glazing, gallery for art shows, and market for local crafters and artists
What was the inspiration behind starting the ArtHaus?
Lea Lovelace and Kristen Underwood started it. I brought my kids to the programs, driving over an hour to get to them (before we moved here) because I loved the classes. I am so happy to be a part of ArtHaus now, helping it grow and continue to connect community through creativity.
How is this different for the ArtHaus as a non-profit, vs a for-profit business?
Non- profits are vastly different. Non-profits are businesses, they just have a mission rather than a product. Some non-profits already are supported by you through tax dollars (schools, libraries, etc) but some, like ArtHaus, are donation based. Having this pandemic happen during our annual fundraiser has been heartbreaking, but we are not giving up. We know that this community values creative education and if they want to have this resource in their community they will help however they can, when they can.
What made you choose the Decorah area?
I liked all the schooling and recreational options for my entire family and the people I was meeting when we were up here for birthing classes.
What changes have you made in the last couple of weeks in response to COVID19 pandemic?
We are working remotely, but the building itself is closed. We are planning on doing one community event a week. We’ve done a sidewalk and window art crawl, encouragement to put in grocery bags, have mask kits in our little free craft closet and this weekend we are doing an Social Distancing Easter Egg hunt in partnership with Decorah Rocks and lots of area businesses.
We've had to shut down the building and postpone classes, events, and fundraisers. We have had to move operations home and think of entirely new ways of connecting to the community. We are slowly working at putting our ceramics to an online shop as well as artists goods.
What are some of the hardships you and/or your employees/volunteers are facing?
50% of our funding comes from classes and events (which have had to cancel), 20% comes from our spring fundraiser (which we have had to postpone), so we are operating on about 15% memberships/donations/grants. We have amazing members/donors who are helping us keep the building essentials in place. This doesn't support staff however and we have had to reduce staffing down to one person, 10 hours a week. The rest of what is getting done is being done by volunteers.
What are resources do you use to help inform business decisions, or support you/your family?
The ArtHaus board has given excellent advice on how to continue moving forward. The idea that we are all in it together is important to lean on.
Personally the Pleasant Valley Community group discussions have helped me make decisions on a community level and the school board has been great at providing meals for our family while we are partially unemployed.
What is one thing that surprised you, in a positive, way – in the last couple of weeks?
Lots of people tell me they don't have a creative bone in their body. Well, these weeks I have seen so much creativity. Not just in people crafting visual projects, but thinking differently about how to be in community and help one another. Last year we changed ArtHaus' mission to Connecting People Through Creativity and at this moment in time I think people truly understand what this means more than ever.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Decorah/Winneshiek county area?
Kim and Andy Bonnet of Rubaiyat Restaurant are great supporters of arts in the community. Their boys are heavily involved in our classes and their creativity abounds. They are constantly thinking of how to make a positive impact on Decorah and I really appreciate this family.
What is one thing you are most grateful to have during this COVID-19 pandemic?
One thing? I can make a laundry list. Shelter, food, electricity, heat, internet, social media, the Trout Run Trail, spring weather, community, our hospitals and doctors, family, friends, creative people sharing on-line.