Founded in 1988 in a one-room office, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts has grown into a multi-disciplinary organization supporting all manner of arts in Sonoma County. Now located on South High Street, the center boasts a spacious venue that exhibits visual arts and various creative events such as the springtime Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and the autumnal Sonoma County Art Trails self-guided art studio tours.
In 2020, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts saw most of its available programming erased by the Covid-19 pandemic that has kept social gatherings and events on hold. Determined to continue enriching the North Bay through arts, the SCA is transitioning to several new online and socially-distant endeavors for the fall season.
First up, SCA is offering the community a chance to engage with local artists and creatives in a series of fall classes that launch Aug. 24. The program includes lessons for kids, adults and families, with visual arts classes such as watercolor and pastels; dance classes covering salsa and the Cha-cha; and performance arts classes encompassing singing, ukulele, storytelling and more.
These classes are accessible to beginners or intermediate artists or musicians, and the roster of instructors features community members including “Mr. Music” Jim Corbett, theater and dance artist Starr Hergenrather, local storyteller Georgia Churchill, Berkeley Playhouse founder and artistic director Elizabeth McKoy, Emmy-nominated writer and National Public Radio storyteller Doug Cordell, and others.
Most classes take place over Zoom, though some classes, such as the Introduction to Hula Hooping or Ballroom Dancing Class with Katherine DuVal, will be held outdoors at SCA, following advised safety protocols to allow for outdoor social distancing. Some online classes and gatherings only ask for $10-$15 suggested donations. Other six-week sessions range from $60 to $240. Classes are limited, so early registration is recommended.
In September, the online offerings continue as the Sebastopol Center for the Arts produces the SebArts Virtual Open Studios, which takes the place of SCA’s now-canceled open studios programs Art at the Source and Sonoma County Art Trails.
The SebArts Virtual Open Studios launched a new website in mid-July, featuring more than 140 artist profiles accompanied by visual content. Throughout September, visitors will be able to interact with the artists in a slew of virtual events and live-streaming studio tours. A full schedule of upcoming events will be posted soon.
On its website, SCA writes, “This program was designed for maximum flexibility; artists can adapt to evolving circumstances and still provide a rich experience for both visitors and the online public. During the month of September, the site will also feature an online gallery with works for sale by all of the artists. Participating artists will be available virtually, with the potential for by-appointment or drop-in studio visits in person if public health guidance allows. Safety first, beauty next—we all need art to uplift and support us while we shelter through uncertainty. Support your local artists and bring art into your home!”
In October, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts will present its latest virtual art exhibit, “Who Are You?”, which invites artists to explore identity. Juried by Sebastopol artist Barbara Stout, the exhibit will digitally display works that tackle ethnicity, gender, political or religious affiliation and other cultural touchstones that are increasingly changing in the modern era. “Who Are You?” opens online Oct. 10 and will remain online through November.