Friends. There is a hidden gem right on MO Blvd and it’s called Capital Arts. Sharing places like this with you is one of the most exciting parts of what we do because it really is like finding a treasure right in your backyard.
We met Leanne Porrello when we started a partnership with the Cultural Arts Commission. It was just an average day, hopping from meetings, drinking coffee, taking photos, and engaging in conversation, but sometimes you meet really special people that breathe fresh life into your soul and that was definitely what it was like meeting Leanne.
She’s the Executive Director of Capital Arts and the Cultural Arts Specialist for the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry and I’m going to let her take it away to give you the DL on Capital Arts!
Q: What is Capital Arts mission?
A: The mission of Capital Arts is to encourage, promote, and support the arts in our community.
Q: How long has this organization existed?
A: Our organization has been around for 51 years! We have been in our current home located at 1203 Missouri Blvd since 2009 when Parks and Rec renovated their previous offices to be our gallery.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A: Capital Arts is very proud of our newest program, Art Heals. Art Heals is a community focused art healing program dedicated to transform, heal, and empower individuals through the arts. Art heals by changing a person’s physiology from one stress to one of deep relaxation; from one fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Capital Arts works with existing organizations within the Jefferson City community who could best benefit from group art healing sessions including cancer survivors, domestic and sexual assault survivors, those with developmental disabilities, trauma survivors, recovering addicts and elderly communities. Art Heals is conducted in a group session and led by one or two Art Heals Leaders. It is a completely free program to those in need.
Q: What has been the most rewarding so far?
A: The most rewarding thing so far for me is watching Capital Arts become a home for so many artists. Artists have limited opportunities in our community and it is very rewarding to be able to offer a venue for them to sell and display their work but also to work with them and network with other organizations to provide more art opportunities from classes, to where to display art, commissions, etc.
Q: What is your main focus or goal for this organization?
A: Our main focus/goal for Capital Arts is to bring awareness to how important arts are for all ages. We want to be available for people to come see local talent, we want to offer education opportunities and we want people to just enjoy art by doing it or seeing it.
Q: Who are the other members and how did you meet them?
A: We have a really awesome active board behind the scenes of Capital Arts! All of our board members come from many different backgrounds such as bankers, artists, teachers, professors, consultants, and much more. Every single one of them are so passionate about Capital Arts and put in many hours at the gallery, our events, community projects and committees. Our Vice President, Janis Burgin teaches classes at our gallery and all over mid Missouri. She is also our main Art Heals teacher. She loves to teach and watch people use art to enhance the quality of their lives.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit of being a nonprofit?
A: The biggest benefit of being a nonprofit is that everything we do is for the community. With every new program, event, class we want it to benefit someone local. Being a non profit means you have a lot of love to give to those who live, work, or event visit our town.
Q: What is one thing you wish people knew about the organization?
A: I wish people knew how many talented artists are from our community that display in our gallery. We have such a wide variety of different art mediums such as paintings, sculpture, fiber art, glass art and so many others. We also have many smaller, affordable, giftable items. Most people think we are more like a museum where you can not purchase artwork, however everyone that displays in our gallery has the option to just display or to sell. There is something here for everyone.
Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: I am most thankful for the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation, and Forestry. At one point a couple of years ago we were closing our doors due to losing some of our major donors, sponsors and corporate memberships. There wasn’t enough time for us to restructure. Todd Spalding, director of JC Parks came in and recognized how important the arts are for our community and was able to give us some financial relief by taking on our staff. With our new partnership with JC Parks we have been able to grow stronger, implement new programs like Art Heals, and provide more community events for Jefferson City.
Q: How do you network with other nonprofits?
A: We network with other nonprofits by inviting them to be apart of our events such as CelebARTy where we take people from other organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, Halo, and others and we pair them with an artist to do an art piece together. After the projects are completed we have a fun evening event with dinner and an art auction to highlight their works. Our Art Heals program is all about working with other nonprofits and organizations as well by providing free art classes to those in need.
Q: What do you think Jeff City needs?
A: Jefferson City needs more public art in the form of murals and sculptures. Our community spends a lot of time in different areas such as the greenway, downtown, the Capitol and in the parks. Art reflects cultural values, beliefs and identity. It is important because it allows for self-expression and lends itself to physical development. Art all around enhances the quality life whether you are doing art yourself or just viewing public art around the city. Art allows us to communicate ideas politically, spiritually, philosophically, socially and creates a sense of beauty. We can communicate across barriers of language, class, and culture using art.
Q: Lastly, what does Capital Arts currently need?
A: Our organization wants more community engagement! Come stop by the gallery and take a tour, attend an art event, volunteer, donate craft items to our Imagination Station, stop and take a moment during your busy day and appreciate the art that’s all around us.
I personally love being in Capital Arts and I hope you do take the time to go visit if you haven’t yet. Leann mentioned Imagination Station, but didn’t do it justice. (No worries, Leann! I’ve got you!) In a nutshell, it’s a room full of supplies with space to be creative that is open all the time (during business hours) and available to you and your little ones for only $1/child. BOOM. Can’t beat it.
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