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HyArts Programming Annex: How the Cultural Center is bringing new art education to Hyannis

Frankie Rowley, Cape Cod Times



Six months after the opening of the HyArts Programming Annex in Hyannis, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in Yarmouth is gearing up for a summer full of camps with kiddos exploring creativity. 


After opening in early October, the Annex, which is a partnership between the Cultural Center and the Town of Barnstable, immediately began hosting a series of children’s programming such as hip hop classes for local teenagers, music classes for babies ages two to four and art classes focused on creating pieces from botanical and organic materials. 


Now, as the Annex celebrates its first calendar year of operation, Executive Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod Molly Demeulenaere said she’s excited for what’s to come as the campus prepares for camps, residencies, more classes and opening up a glass studio. 


Of all the exciting programming happening around the campus, Demeulenaere said the summer camps are a big point of anticipation for her. After conducting outreach to families in Hyannis, Demeulenaere said the Cultural Center learned what families were looking for in their communities: multi-generational and affordable arts and culture programming. 

“(It’s) our first year in this space,” she said. “We want to make sure that it's what the community wants. We’re really doing all of this programming based on that community assessment that came out last year.”

The camps are a big part of fulfilling community wants. For six weeks from July through August, the Annex will host a series of camps for kids entering fourth through seventh grade from noon to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Each week costs $300 with financial assistance available for those in need. Classes are limited to 10 kids.

“They're coming out of elementary school (and) going into middle school, which is a hard time in education because things become less fun for kids,” Demeulenaere said. "...We find that this is a really important age group to spark kids' imagination and to keep them going (and) excited about what's exciting them.”

Susan Overstreet, resident art educator at the Cultural Center and learning coordinator for Guyer Art Barn, will teach the camps with help from volunteers and a resident arts educator. Each week will have a different theme giving kids a wide array of experiences and activities to get involved in. 

"My goal is to be sustainable with the materials and to be value-based," Overstreet said. "...I'm gonna make them make a little campfire ... that we sit around in the beginning and we get to know each other and really build a little community during the whole week."

Camp begins with “Wild and Wonderful, Messy and Marvelous,” a camp dedicated to kids creating a mess in the kitchen and unleashing their inner abstract painter through creating art pieces and culinary dishes. “Kids love making a mess and parents don't love (it) in their house,” Demeulenaere joked. 


In the following weeks, camps range from the mythical and magical, like “Mermaids, Sea Creatures and Buried Treasures" and "Wizardry, Magic and Mysterious,” which teach kids about creating their own art from materials found at the beach and how to become a wizard or witch, to nature-based camps like “Treehouses and Fairy Fort Adventures” and “Listening to the Animals."

"To expose children at a very young age to art and what it can do for you, as far as for your whole being and your whole life, problem-solving (and) using your imagination, is just so much," Overstreet said.

The six weeks of programming ends with a camp collaboration between the Wampanoag tribe and the Cultural Center for “Lessons from Native Americans: Caring for the Land,” a camp focusing on the culture of the Wampanoag tribe teaching campers about their traditions, crafts and foods. 


Outside of summer camps, the Annex also hosts a series of educational classes for children as well, such as their “Rhythm Time” class for ages 2 to 4, taught by Norma Atwood, resident music educator, and other teachers including Gabriella Simpkins


Simpkins, who has taught music classes for adults in the past, began working with Atwood about a month ago. She said Atwood has been teaching her how to run the class and though it’s been a big leap to go from teaching adults to teaching children, she said the experience has been nothing but gratifying.

“Music has always been a huge part of my life — I made it my career — and to be able to share that with another person, especially someone so young, and start them on what could be their journey is very rewarding,” Simpkins said. 

The Cultural Center is launching a new residency program for an arts educator to help out with running the camps and classes. The resident will live in the house on the edge of campus — which is fitted with studio spaces and gallery spaces — and be able to work on their craft while being paid to teach at the Cultural Center, according to Demeulenaere.


In addition to children’s programming, the Annex will be home to a glass-blowing studio fitted with six torch stations. Demeulenaere said she wanted to create the studio after noticing there wasn’t a public studio for people to learn and practice their lampworking on the Cape. 

“The idea is after people start taking classes, the space will be open, like a makerspace, where people can come even when they're not taking the class and work on their own craft,” she said. “Most people don't have torches in their house so it's a little bit of an inaccessible practice for yourself if you're just trying in your home.”

To learn more about the activities taking place at the HyArts Programming Annex, the Cultural Center is hosting an open house of the Guyer Art Barn at 10 a.m. on April 17. A full list of their upcoming classes and camps can be found online at www.cultural-center.org/education/.

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