Arts Beat: Classes to inspire essential and service workers

Oct 1, 2020

The Community Arts Workshop in downtown Santa Barbara is a place for local artists and organizations to make and display their art. The Workshop is now offering classes designed for working adults, especially those in the service industries who want to recharge their creative spirit.

Opened in 2014, the Community Arts Workshop offers inexpensive work space to Santa Barbara artists. With two large buildings and four separate spaces, the CAW is usually a hub of local activity.

“Everything from aerial dance to music to theater performance, rehearsals, art classes and gallery shows, this space exists to provide a blank canvas of affordable space,” said Casey Caldwell, managing director of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative and the Community Arts Workshop.

With the physical space closed during the pandemic, he has come up with new ways to engage the community. Starting this and next week, COR workshop classes will be held online or outdoors in a safe setting.

Caldwell says they chose the name COR because it’s Latin for heart.

“It also means mind and spirit,” added Caldwell.

COR classes are designed for those who may feel especially worn down by current events.

“Medical professionals, teachers, bus drivers, restaurant servers, people who have been working very long hours putting in a valiant effort. We wanted to create a program to provide an opportunity for people to restore, to reflect and to process the experience of the last few months,” said Caldwell.

There are several COR workshops to choose from: photography, storytelling and more. Most are taught at night, with a few scheduled midday or on weekends, and depending on the class, last four to eight weeks. Some take place in Santa Barbara; others are accessible online for those in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

Patrick Melroy is teaching a class called The Drift – where he’ll lead meandering walks through Santa Barbara neighborhoods to reflect on the landscape and gain new perspectives.

“Creativity is not exclusively reserved for when you’re sitting quietly at a small desk, but instead it can apply to everything you do including walking down the street,” said Melroy.

There’s no need for previous experience. Melroy says people already have what they need, it’s just a matter of re-activating it.

“To access that thing that they’ve got inside of them and make it strong again because that’s what I think, ultimately, will get us through this,” he said.

Melroy is a UCSB alum who teaches art at Cal Poly. All of the instructors, Caldwell says, are experienced art teachers from Central Coast schools and organizations.

“They all really have a heart for teaching all kinds of people from absolute beginners to those with a little more experience and skill,” said Caldwell.

Local donations means class fees are discounted and scholarships are available. Find out more at under the ‘Upcoming’ tab.