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Cape Art Classes

Cotuit Center for the Arts

Their tagline is “Do it at Cotuit,” and at Cotuit Center for the Arts, that “it” is just about anything you could imagine. After initially opening in 1993 with a heavy focus on live theater, the center has morphed and grown into a lively campus of rich interdisciplinary activity. Christine Ernst, the director of education, says that she finds herself in the midst of her dream job. “Don’t get me wrong,” she explains, “I work hard. But this has been one of the most exciting times I could ever imagine. We have so much going on. Basically if someone can dream of a class, a workshop or a course on any topic, we will find a way to present it.”

In fact, Ernst adds barely any exaggeration to her claim. With nearly 250 courses over the year—ranging from photography to songwriting to live model painting to ukulele, and almost everything in between—Cotuit’s syllabus spans the creative imagination. And the robust curriculum shows no signs of slowing down. In 2017, the center acquired an abutting 1.5 acres of property, which will be transformed into a ceramics studio, and there are plans for further expansion—including an “education village”—on the 7.5-acre campus. “It’s very exciting to see how it is growing,” Ernst says. “It has been sort of a persistent growing dream for us. Each little acquisition has grown the dream a little bit more. Ultimately our goal is that it will be community transforming.”

Ernst continues: “We’re lucky that we have a super strong ukulele program, a super strong tap dancing program, as well as strong painting and drawing offerings. And around that I’ve started to pack new offerings, like bonsai, stained glass and furniture painting. If someone had told me last year I would be selling out stained glass I wouldn’t have believed it. It has been neat to see what sticks.”

The diversity of the programs can be credited to both instructors and students of the local  community. Ernst confirms the prevailing belief that people take classes where they live. So as a result, she says she welcomes ideas from the local resource of students and practicing artists. “If you are passionate about something and you want to share that with our students, send me a course description,” she says. “I’m not as interested in your CV as whether you are passionate and you can create a fun learning environment.”

Ernst is also extremely proud of the center’s mission that states they are “a welcoming hub,” and the commitment to that mandate to provide access for those who can’t otherwise afford the curriculum. She explains, “We have a scholarship program that I think sums up what Cotuit is all about—we never want to turn a student away. Sharing the arts with all those who have an interest and a desire is our goal.”

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