Friday, September 22, 2017

Appreciating the Art of Non-Profit Art Education

Photo by Evan Brandt
Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez with
Erika Hornberg-Cooper, 
proprietor of ArtFusion `19464,
after he presented her with 
the Superintendent's Award
at Thursday night's school board meeting.
Those who know Erika Hornberg-Cooper, know she is not a big fan of the spotlight, or of having her picture taken.

So it was no surprise that Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez had to "trick" Erika into attending last night's school board meeting so he could present her with the Superintendent's Award.

The trick he used was to ask her to give a presentation about what her non-profit art school and gallery -- ArtFusion 19464 -- has done for Pottstown.

But in some ways, the genius of Rodriguez's "trick," was not that it got her to the meeting, but even just a quick recitation of things Hornberg-Cooper has done for the town and school district (in Pottstown, they're the same thing) made it obvious she was deserving of the award.

The center, long a fixture in the 200 block of High Street, the non-profit ArtFusion 19464 opened this month in its new location, the $13 million renovated space of the former Fecera's furniture warehouse, now known as Beech Street Factory.

There, "tenants are signing up for classes and children are stopping by to say hi," Hornberg-Cooper told the board. Her facility was a central feature of the effort to convert the long-vacant warehouse into an artists' sanctuary and it seems to be working.
Rodriguez hands the Superintendent's Award medal
around Hornberg-Cooper's neck Thursday.

But the center's programs have long been open to Pottstown School students, almost always at no charge. A 21st Century Block Grant pays for some programs there but other than that, "if you need a program, I'll find the money," she said, indicating the district never has to pay for art education there.

The center offers scholarships for low-income student arts and, she reported Thursday, Montgomery County Community College will soon be offering accredited art classes there as well.

Never one to miss an opportunity to promote Pottstown and its arts scene through whatever means available, Hornberg-Cooper urged the board members to attend events downtown, at Steel River Playhouse and "like" and "share" those sites on Facebook and Twitter.

Congratulations Erika on a well-deserved award and tip of the hat to Rodriguez for recognizing she deserved one.

And without further ado, here are the Tweets from the otherwise very short meeting.

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