As a pandemic-induced disruption continues through the academic year, officials said it could take more than a year to restart the non-degree student arts program at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. .
Authorities suspended the continuing education program, which teaches various art and media courses to non-graduate students in the district last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauren Onkey, principal of Corcoran, said the program will continue its hiatus as the school focuses on reopening and safely monitoring classrooms for returning faculty, graduate students and college students. who are taking credit courses.
“We want to take this time to think about how best to serve the DC community as well as coordinate a safe reopening for these students,” Onkey said in an email.
She said the school has decided to keep its exhibits closed and restrict in-person instruction to students taking credit courses due to persistent security concerns despite returning to in-person classes for the rest of the campus.
Onkey said the school is “strategically” considering how to achieve the goals and scope of the program during the slack period, which can take up to a year. She said Corcoran officials take the time to ask program students and members of her community what they would like to learn and study to better serve the arts in the district.
She said the program enrolled around 50 to 80 students per semester before the pandemic and ran classes like oil painting and digital photography. Onkey, who began her role as director of Corcoran in July, added officials will work with part-time professors in the program to create new programming after the break.
“I have a long history of developing and managing educational and community programs and want to make sure community efforts like this get the time and attention they deserve,” she said. .
Professors and students who have taken the program’s classes said officials have yet to provide an update on the resumption of the continuing education program, leaving them concerned about the future of the program and the value it will have. it brings to the district.
Tom Morris, who taught drawing in the program, said the continuing education provided the local community in the district with the opportunity to learn and hone their artistic skills through various art classes. He said the program is open to all adults interested in learning the art, improving a specific skill set, or exploring a new field.
“The art is to gain perspective,” Morris said. “It takes a little while, but it encourages people to see life as a whole and see how one thing influences another.”
He said the program is expected to restart as its offerings give adults the option to resume classes in a school environment.
“You practice your whole life, but when you go out into the world you face the situation, you tend to enjoy learning more and I think the program maybe helps you,” Morris said.
Mira Hecht, an artist based in the district who has taught advanced abstract painting in the program, said that if stopping the program was a “good decision,” she believes the interruption could result in permanent cancellation because she does not. ‘heard no information from the administrators on his return.
She said the announcement of the hiatus was an “abrupt” end to the program when current classes came to a complete halt and students received refunds for the second half of the semester when the rest of the university went to a halt. been uploaded online. She said her students lacked the physical studio space and in-person collaborations during isolation.
“A lot of us had a real appreciation and love for the history of the Corcoran and felt really good to attend classes there just because it was the Corcoran,” Hecht said. “I think this was dug with a lot of sadness, and then what can you do?”
Hecht said continuing education should resume if officials are willing to put more effort into the program, such as offering courses on credit and making them known to the local community to make the program more “alive”.
“If they could bring it back to what it was when the Corcorans had it before they took over, I think that would be really wonderful for the community because I know it was a one of a kind program.” , Hecht said. .
Lindy Kerr, a former student in the oil painting class, said the program reinvigorated her childhood passion for oil painting after a nearly fifty-year hiatus from the hobby. She said she learned new techniques and skills, such as botanical drawing, through the classes in the program she took from time to time over the past few years.
“The Corcoran program is for those who have artistic energy in them, but their work does not allow them to express it,” she said. “I would say this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”
Kerr said she was grateful for the program because the art classes she took have provided her with a “new avenue of expression” since her retirement. She said officials should restart the program because the classes allow people to pursue their interests if they are interested in art but their main work is in another field.
“It broadened my horizons and I learned so much from the program,” Kerr said. “I can’t say enough good things about this.”
Anna Burger, a former student who took digital photography as part of the program, said she was looking for adult photography classes after spending a few years in school before finding out about the program and its variety. of art classes in 2014. She said the photography classes she took helped her develop skills, such as using lighting and exposure settings, and made her consider photography. photography more as an art form than another form of media.
She said she was disappointed when the show announced a hiatus and wondered if the temporary cancellation was an excuse to shut down the program.
“I couldn’t wait to see what they would do in the hopes that they would reopen classes,” Burger said. “Otherwise it will be a sad loss for the community and for people like me. “