10 Jul You are connecting CATA artists in a time of crisis.
As soon as Eric logs in to his weekly CATA acting workshop, a chorus of voices chimes in to greet him.
“HEY ERIC!” He lights up when he sees the faces of his fellow CATA artists on the screen. Soon, another artist logs in and a dozen CATA artists smile and shout. “There’s Cindy! Hi Cindy!”
As shops and restaurants begin to reopen, people with disabilities are continuing to shelter in place. Many are vulnerable to COVID-19 and remain separated from friends and family. But thanks to you, CATA artists are finding meaningful connection and creative stimulation in online arts workshops.
“Normally our workshops would be winding down for the summer,” says Dawn Lane, CATA’s Artistic & Program Director. “But this year especially, CATA artists need these programs to stay creative and connected.”
Since the start of the pandemic, CATA supporters like you have helped launch over 200 programs serving people with disabilities across our community. And your ongoing gifts keep those programs going.
“We have 26 different workshops reaching CATA artists every week,” says Jeff Gagnon, CATA’s Program Manager. “Thanks to our supporters, we’re expanding programs into the summer to reach teens, adults, and elders wherever they are.”
For Kelley Kemp and Kris Neep, who work at Berkshire Family & Individual Resources (BFAIR) where many people with disabilities take part in CATA programs, the workshops are about more than just art-making.
“It’s about seeing their peers,” says Kelley. “They miss each other. Getting to see one another is the best thing for them right now. It’s really helping them get through this crisis.”
“Change is hard for our folks,” adds Kris. “Especially during this time, it’s so important that we keep things as regular as possible. CATA programs are giving them a sense of the normal routines that they’re used to.”
Eric, who takes acting, creative writing, and painting workshops from home each week, is finding joy in seeing his friends. “It’s been hard not going to CATA,” says Eric. “I miss being with everyone. That’s why the online CATA classes have been good. I get to see people.”
Offline, your gifts are making a difference for CATA artists, too. When CATA programs require extra materials—like paint, canvas, or brushes—your gift is helping to deliver care packages of professional art supplies to people with disabilities so they can participate wherever they are.
“There was one artist at home that we knew couldn’t access the supplies,” says Kelley. “CATA took the time to mail a package to her. It just made her day.” Now, thanks to supporters like you, she’s connecting with her friends in online workshops each week.
“It’s all about being together,” says Elizabeth Kick, who leads weekly CATA painting workshops. “Art helps us communicate. When CATA artists start to paint and get in the flow, that’s when they really start to connect. All of a sudden you hear humming, or someone singing to themselves. And then the chit chat starts: ‘Hey Dennis! How’s it going?’ They’re really taking advantage of these workshops to connect and relate.”
For the artists in Elizabeth’s workshop, one of the best parts comes at the end. That’s when each artist takes a turn holding up and sharing their work. “They’re so proud of what they’ve done,” says Kelley. “The smiles are just priceless.”
“CATA is connecting all our individuals during this difficult time,” says Kris. “And seeing their smiles makes a big difference for us, too. It makes it all worthwhile.”