2020 Highland Arts Academy A Success

In early June, The Highland County Arts Council realized their popular Arts Academy workshops could not be held as planned in 2020. It was not feasible to go forward with the seven workshops due to health and safety concerns. Instead, they began planning for an abbreviated version and ideas on how to move forward with an appreciation of art during unusual circumstances formed through conversations with instructors and potential participants.


The result was three, short workshops that could be conducted outdoors or with limited participants.  Barn Quilt Basics was the first workshop and was held on July 31 and August 1.  The workshop was led by local artist Margie Boesch. It was determined that her Blue Grass Valley studio could accommodate a limited number of students and still maintain social distancing requirements. This workshop filled up within 24 hours after being announced.


The Arts Academy had seen early interest in a new offering in the original workshop options. Ecoprinting uses elements of nature to imprint fabric with design through a steaming process.  Theresa Brown teaches these workshops around the country at fiber festivals and agreed to come to Highland to share her skill.  Tate Swecker Dunn offered her Mill Street Studio in Monterey as the perfect location. The participants dodged rain storms throughout the two days from August 6-7th  and stayed dry thanks to the generous donation of tents by Wayne Coleman, Kirk Billingsley, and Sarah Collins Simmons.


The Basketry Workshop was back by popular demand.  Basketry artist Judith Saunders led this 2019 workshop and returned for a three day session on August 12 – 14th at the Highland Center Pavilion. This outdoor, covered location provided an opportunity for participants to experience the various techniques and materials used in weaving baskets.


According to Donna Bedwell, Highland County Arts Council member and coordinator of the workshops, “We could not be more pleased with the 2020 events. While it was not what was envisioned originally for this year, the Arts Academy was not only successful but it added to what we learned with the 2019 workshops.  All participants and instructors understood the importance of safety. Masks were worn, social distancing was practiced, and our mission to adapt and grow as we continue to make Highland a destination for the arts was achieved. I am already looking forward to the 2021 Arts Academy”.


Items created during the 2020 Workshops can be viewed at an exhibit in the window of the old Highland County Craft Shop on Main Street in Monterey. For more information about programs of the Highland County Arts Council, visit www.highlandcountyartscouncil.org.

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