EASTHAMPTON — Resilient Community Arts, also known as RCA, is hosting its first annual pledge drive from Jan. 10 to Feb. 10, hoping to have 50 new monthly pledges by the end of the drive. The money will go directly to the Art is for Everybody Fund which offers art programs to students in the area and scholarships to young artists from low-income homes.

“This Pledge Drive is unique because it is a key point in the year where we are reminding community members that they can make a large impact in supporting young people with a simple act — setting up a monthly donation to benefit youth art programs,” explained Libby Keller, RCA’s youth and teen lead instructor. “Youth benefiting from the Art is For Everybody Fund would not otherwise be able to access arts enrichment, but community donations help make their studio time possible.”

The fund offers scholarships to young artists from 7 to 15 years old who have shown a great interest in art, but whose caregivers may be facing financial hardship or housing insecurity. Full and partial scholarships make up more than 60% of the youth program enrollment. Typically, anyone who applies to the fund receives a scholarship, but in the summer of 2023 the applications tripled and some students had to be turned away. Organizers are hoping that pledge drives like this one will make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Locally, RCA will begin an after school art program at Mountain View School later this year. The weekly sessions for students in fifth through eighth grades will be offered on a sliding-scale cost for participants.

“We always receive requests for more enrichment opportunities directly after school, and transportation logistics make it difficult to ensure equitable access to such experiences. Luckily, the new late bus offering at Mountain View School will help us offer weekly after school art sessions,” explained Keller, who expects the program to launch sometime after February break. “Donations from individuals through the Pledge Drive will provide financial support to students who may not be able to pay the full cost of the program.”

Donations will also help to support the return of free after-school art for Springfield students.

“The Art is for Everybody Fund also supports a collaborative initiative with Milton Bradley Elementary School and RCA, serving students in 3rd-5th grades with weekly after school art at no charge,” explained Keller. “Fondly known as “The Maple Street Artists” the program takes place in our developing Springfield satellite location, in the recreational space at South Congregational on Maple Street, in the South End of Springfield.”

The current pledge drive is inspired by last year’s Giving Tuesday success with a similar drive, and all of those pledgers are still signed on for monthly donations.

“We’re looking forward to directing more attention to our youth programs and the immense amount of funding needed to make them accessible to youth coming from low-income homes,” Keller said.

The ultimate goal of the pledge drive, outside of supporting young artists, is to create a sustainable financial model for RCA with consistent donations.

“This will often have a larger impact than one-time donations. While supporters have the option to pledge anywhere from $5 to $50 per month, the typical pledge is $10,” noted Keller. “If we can receive 50 pledges in that range, we could be bringing in an extra $6,000 in the year that will go directly toward supporting arts enrichment for young people in our community.”

Monthly donations can be anywhere from $5 to $50 and can be made through the organization’s website www.resilientcommunityarts.org. Any donors who pledge by Feb. 10 are eligible for a range of RCA-branded thank you gifts, including sticker packs, tote bags, socks and speakers.

Tina Lesniak
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