For years the Yukon Arts Centre has hosted Kids Kreate.
It’s become an event many local kids — ages four to 11 — look forward to each month between September and April.
The program happens on a Sunday afternoon once a month, with kids gathering inside the lobby of the Yukon Arts Centre to create a piece with the help of a local artist.
The art projects have varied from stained glass leaves to creating masterpieces out of felt or paint and more with anywhere from 50 to 90 kids attending a given session. When the arts centre had to shut its doors due to COVID-19 in March, it meant it couldn’t host the final two Kids Kreate events for the year — at least not the way they had been planned.
Like many organizations though, the Yukon Arts Centre decided to look at offering an online alternative beginning March 27.
The feeling among officials at the arts centre for continuing the Kids Kreate program was “let’s give it a try” online and see how it goes, the centre’s visual arts director Mary Bradshaw said in an April 3 interview.
It was such a success that the arts centre hosted two more events led by artist Maya Rosenberg on April 1 and 3 with plans to continue the programming online each Wednesday and Friday for the foreseeable future. On April 8, participants will make hearts that can be displayed on doors and on April 10, Easter baskets from egg cartons are on the schedule.
It was clear in that first session there is a desire for the Kids Kreate programming to continue online, so officials decided to keep it going with the subsequent sessions twice a week.
“It was just wonderful; heartwarming,” Bradshaw said of that first session, adding that more than 100 kids signed up to make mandalas using paper plates or “anything round” kids could trace onto paper.
While the majority of kids for that first session were tuning in from Whitehorse, there were also some from communities outside the city including Dawson, Haines Junction, Mount Lorne and even outside the territory.
The arts centre doesn’t have information on where those from outside the territory are from, though Bradshaw said one family mentioned they were tuning in from Victoria. Others said their kids were excited to see some friends from school through the feed and do an art project together even if they couldn’t be in the same room.
Taking a lesson from the first Kids Kreate online experience, Bradshaw said staff decided to use the mute feature to keep the background sounds from participants’ households quiet for much of the following sessions while instructions are being given, leaving the last part of it unmuted so kids can show off their work and talk.
Also being taken into consideration for the home projects are what sort of materials most families are likely to have around the house, since staff can’t simply go to the back room of the arts centre to get whatever supplies might be needed for a project as they normally would. Toilet paper rolls were on the list for the second project.
On April 1 kids created their own scary monsters out of the toilet paper rolls, while the April 3 session saw participants use cardboard boxes — which may be piling up at homes with local recycling facilities now shut — to cut out shapes to make a mosaic fish. Old magazines and paper will be needed for the April 8 event with egg cartons and paper required for April 10. Along with items specific for the craft of the day are the usual items used for any crafting: scissors, glue, crayons and markers or the like.
The arts centre lists the materials needed on its Kids Kreate event page along with sending out an email of the list to families when they register. Moving forward, Bradshaw said arts centre staff are exploring the possibility of focusing its Kids Kreate events on both visual and performing arts with the sessions led by artists in both specialties.
Along with providing kids with an art project, it also means local artists who lead the program will be paid for their work at a time when art shows, classes, musical gigs and more have been cancelled.
With a commitment to continue Kids Kreate online for the time being, arts centre staff are also promoting and offering other arts events online.
“There’s a lot we can do,” Bradshaw said.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org