BERKSHIRE EDGE: CATA launches online programs

BERKSHIRE EDGE: CATA launches online programs


April 30, 2020 —

A Community Access to the Arts staff member creates art kits to send to artists with disabilities so they can participate in online workshops. Photo courtesy Community Access to the Arts


Great Barrington — Community Access to the Arts has launched a series of online arts programs in order to combat the isolation that people with disabilities are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis.

CATA suspended its workshops in early March to protect the health and safety of the people it serves, many of whom are especially vulnerable to the virus. But seeing how social isolation was falling hard on the disability community, CATA moved to adapt and deliver its programs online.

Faculty artist Pat Hogan delivers flowers to BCArc residents for painting inspiration. Photo courtesy Community Access to the Arts

Thanks to donations from the community, CATA has launched interactive online workshops in dance, singing, painting, drumming, yoga and other activities. Some workshops are held over Zoom and others are livestreamed to CATA’s Facebook page. Offline, CATA assembles art-making kits consisting of professional-quality pencils, watercolor paints and other materials to deliver to CATA artists for virtual painting workshops. On a recent Saturday morning, CATA faculty artist Pat Hogan delivered fresh-cut flowers to several homes and agencies serving CATA artists with disabilities; CATA artists then used those flowers as inspiration in an online watercolor class that took place later in the week.

One of CATA’s major public events, its annual gala and performance, has been reinvented as a virtual event set to take place Saturday, May 9. CATA is working with local filmmaker Ben Hillman to share the talents of its artists and raise funds to continue its programs. “Each year we raise one-third of our annual budget at our Gala,” said executive director Margaret Keller. The film will debut live Saturday. May 9, at 5 p.m. and will be followed by a virtual paddle-raise auction to support CATA programs.

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