Lincoln City Cultural Center mines COVID-19 silver lining

Creative Quarantine provides activity kits for kids and online entertainment for adults

Even in these strange days, people are finding the silver lining. At the Lincoln City Cultural Center, that’s been a chance to connect with innumerable people who previously may not have known the center existed. It’s also been a reminder of what creative and innovative people are in our midst.

Last month, Executive Director Niki Price temporarily closed the center due to COVID-19. It wasn’t easy. There were layoffs, reduced hours, and the cancellation of one of the year’s biggest kids’ events, the Festival of Illusion.

Sisters Juniper (left) and Hazel Jones made Ben Soeby Fishboxes, https://artstudiotourlccc.com/artists/ben-soeby/ part of the April 9 Creative Quarantine packet, using popsicle sticks, pens, markers, paint and glue. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center
Sisters Juniper (left) and Hazel Jones made Ben Soeby Fishboxes, part of the April 9 Creative Quarantine packet, using popsicle sticks, pens, markers, paint and glue. Photo courtesy: Lincoln City Cultural Center

“Everybody went home and rested for a few days,” Price said. “And then I began to think, we have all these supplies and all these ideas. Surely, we can find a way to get them out there in a safe way.”

So she called the center’s visual arts director, Krista Eddy, who knew exactly what Price was thinking.

And that’s how Creative Quarantine was born.

On the visual arts side, it’s all about the kids. Every Thursday, Eddy hands out art kits she puts together in a clean workshop. Parents and caregivers drive through the center’s parking lot, where they are asked a few questions about the recipients — ages, first names, what supplies they have at home — then given a kit appropriate to their age and skill.

Alan Wren, 8, of Otis built his sandpiper out of a Creative Quarantine kit. Photo courtesy: Helene Wren
Alan Wren, 8, of Otis built his sandpiper out of a Creative Quarantine kit. Photo courtesy: Helene Wren

One week, kits included the materials necessary to make a book; another, pre-fired ceramics with individually portioned paints. A favorite project consisted of sandpipers cut from cardboard with wire feet and a base to stand on.

“It’s hard to get it right, making sure we have something for everyone,” Price said. “We try to include easy projects anyone can do.”

“You have to put yourself in the parents’ shoes,” she added. While the parents are the teachers, they may be working from home, so they don’t want projects that require a lot of skilled, adult supervision. “We spend a lot of time testing out things. Will this embroidery thread fit through this needle easily or will the kids get frustrated? Is it safe? That’s where Krista’s expertise really comes in handy.”

But it’s not all kids’ play.

The Cultural Center also is presenting a daily live event, viewable online at the center’s Facebook page, with a lineup as varied as any you’d find in larger, more urban venues.

“When it comes to Creative Quarantine online, what I want is for everything that would be happening at the Cultural Center to be happening online instead,” Price said. “So that means that people who would normally be playing at the Cultural Center will be playing online.”

So far, that’s included concerts by fiddler Kevin Burke, and Amy and Matt White, musicians and owners of Beachcrest Brewing Company. Neskowin poet Ger Killeen shared his “augmented reality poetry,” nature  illustrator Nora Sherwood hosted a tour of her Lincoln City studio, and Brian Fackler, who splits his time between Lincoln City and Vancouver, Wash., demonstrated his cocktail-making skills.

The Wren siblings and two friends created a flock of sandpipers. Mother Helene Wren told the Lincoln City Cultural Center that during quarantine, “art is our favorite activity to all do together, truly healing for the mind and soul.” Photo courtesy: Helene Wren
The Wren siblings and two friends created a flock of sandpipers. Mother Helene Wren told the Lincoln City Cultural Center that during quarantine, “art is our favorite activity to all do together, truly healing for the mind and soul.” Photo courtesy: Helene Wren

This Saturday, April 18, during a virtual Doggone Crazy Days, canine-related speakers will give live presentations and local dog lovers are invited to post photos and videos of how their dogs are spending quarantine. Next week includes a live concert from Ecuador and a ukulele session. Creative Quarantine has been extended through May; the full schedule is listed in the events section of the Cultural Center’s Facebook page. Events are free, but donations are welcome and shared with performers.

“The traffic on our Facebook page is crazy,” Price said. “That’s the great thing, it’s clearly something people want to do with their time. We’re getting a lot of views, introducing ourselves to a lot of new people and giving people who want to express themselves a place to do it. I am looking at this project just like the Cultural Center — it’s amateurs and professionals; it’s the celebration of being creative.”

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

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