Reach Studio Art Center is a non-profit organization located in Lansing’s REO Town, right on S. Washington Ave. and central to three large neighborhoods. Alice Brinkman, executive director, along with the contracted teachers and volunteers working there, are dedicated to making art available to children who would otherwise not have access.
Reach is the brainchild of Brinkman, who is also the founding director. The non-profit was started in 2003 when Brinkman was teaching afterschool art classes as well as looking for studio space for her own textile art.
Recognizing her childhood privilege of being able to explore creative talents through music, dance and art classes, Brinkman realized there was a large gap between what she had access to as a child, and what was available to the students she was working with.
“I found that I enjoyed teaching art and enjoyed seeing the responses that youth had to creating art. It empowered them in a different way,” said Brinkman.
Seven years later, Brinkman’s textile art has been pushed upstairs in order to make room for the creative minds and bodies that Reach attracts. Children of all ages come from around the Lansing area to draw, paint, build and create.
During the school year, the cornerstone program of Reach, “Creative Connections”, is offered for free. Reach coordinates enrollment and transportation with the Lansing school system, while the Residential College of Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University provides faculty and volunteers.
This summer, Reach offers day camps for different groups ranging from age 4 to 13, Friday art workshops, as well as clay classes for teens and adults. Registration fees vary, but Reach offers a “REO Town Neighbor” discount, a price significantly lower for residents within a one and a half mile radius of the art center.
Reach also provides a number of scholarships to children in the neighborhood by going door-to-door and signing up kids who may have otherwise not been able to go to a summer camp session.
Because Reach does just what the name implies, they are taking their classes on the road this summer with the brand new Art Truck program. The Art Truck, stocked full of supplies and teachers ready to teach, will travel to four different Lansing parks, visiting summer camps and bringing art projects to the children.
Reach has a positive impact on the individuals that participate in these art programs.
“There is risk making involved, decision making involved, and those are good basic skills to have,” said Brinkman. “While art is often seen as superfluous [or] extra, what isn’t capitalized on is that it can help all these other things that we want our children to be better at.”
Several long term students at Reach have come to the faculty and expressed gratitude for having a place to go to either keep them busy, out of trouble, or even out of depression.
The art that these stories are told through can be seen on the walls of Reach, covering almost every inch of the main room and even decorating the parking lot.
Looking toward the future, Brinkman hopes to serve even more youth and get more kids involved and coming to Reach consistently. In order to do this, she hopes to acquire a larger studio space. Until then, Reach is always accepting donations for funding, and volunteers to help out.