Hopkinton Center for the Arts feels financial impact of pandemic

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Instructor Sarah Alexander (top right) teaches an online art class to some of her students.
Instructor Sarah Alexander (top right) teaches an online art class to some of her students.

Like so many small businesses in town, the Hopkinton Center for the Arts has been struggling due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shuttered since March 12, the HCA has been forced to cancel classes and postpone a number of performances and other events.

The HCA’s Hayden Rowe Street building has been without the sights and sounds of people taking classes, viewing exhibits and enjoying live performances.

Nonetheless, the HCA is determined to keep people engaged in the arts while also trying to raise money to ensure its financial health for when the stay at home advisory finally ends.

According to director Kelly Grill, the HCA is facing a $40,000 budget shortfall and thus has come up with innovative ways to keep programming afloat while also helping to alleviate the monotony of staying at home.

In April the HCA began offering online classes for children and adults, including various types of dance, such as ballet and hip hop. There also are theater, music and other creative and fine arts classes available remotely.

“We’re hoping to offer as many types of dance classes as we can,” Grill said. “For the ballet classes, the kids use a chair and get dressed up in their attire. They love it.”

When it comes to an online ceramics class, its unlikely participants have a pottery wheel at home. Instead, instructors have been coming up with different ways to teach and create sculptures by hand.

“The overall response has been fantastic,” Grill said. “Our teachers are amazing. We’re just trying to keep as much art contact going as we can.”

There are open mic nights on the HCA’s Facebook page, as well as a daily online art challenge.

Not only do the classes help break up the day, Grill said, “They also bring some normalcy back to our days. They used to take these classes before having to stay home, and now they still can.”

The director added that her organization is encouraging residents to share any ideas they may have to help keep people engaged in the arts during this unprecedented time.

Online classes are teleconferenced through Zoom. After signing up for a class via the HCA website (HopArtsCenter.org), participants access the class via a computer, tablet or smart phone.

While the online classes have been going well, Grill remains fearful of the budget shortfall. As a result, the HCA is seeking donations from those who are able to help.

Recently a very generous pledge was made by Edward and Lisa McFarland. The couple will match dollar for dollar other donations up to $10,000.

“They’re very impressed by what we do here and made this incredible donation,” Grill said. “We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Editor’s note: This story appears in the April 22 print edition of the Hopkinton Independent.