The SHACK Says Goodbye to Sandy Hook, but We’re Not Going Too Far!
It is with mixed emotions that we announce that after six months of bringing free arts, music and theatre programs to Sandy Hook, the SHACK, Sandy Hook Arts Center for Kids, will be closing our doors. The main reasons we have to close are due to lack of funding and lack of volunteers. We tried to get some classes going so the tuition would cover our costs, but decided as a board that the amount we are paying out in overhead is far too costly for the handful of paying students we have coming in. With all the free programs going on in town it doesn’t make sense to have so many different arts organizations offering separate activities instead of working together; something we had tried to do. While it is bittersweet to say goodbye, we are at peace knowing we did all we could and were able to help a lot of people at a time they needed it most.
We are grateful for all the donations, volunteers and people who came out to support our cause. While there is no knight in shining armor coming to save the SHACK, there certainly have been a lot of amazing people along the way that we would like to thank- especially our Board of Directors, New Fairfield Press, Doug Muckell, CPA, Newtown Cultural Creative Arts Council, Newtown Strong Therapy Dogs and all of our volunteers, donors and supporters.
Since our very first free event, “Paint & Play for Peace” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 19, 2013, we have had the pleasure of touching hearts through the arts. We have been able to honor many of the victims through art shows, workshops and events and help their friends and family heal through the arts as well. Our space gave children and families a “safe haven” and comfort to survivors and victims families alike.
THE LAST HURRAH!
We will be doing one FINAL FAREWELL on Monday July 8th (time TBA) with a visiting artist from Tuscon, AZ. Johanna Martinez will present a free cultural arts workshop as a gift to the community. Johanna is a former Sandy Hook resident and is happy to present “Little Angels” free summer healing arts workshop. Through her artwork, Johanna wishes to honor those lost by presenting a program designed to honor, celebrate and memorialize those lost in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Her goal is to design and create a mural for the community in the Aztec tradition. Students may create a personal or group altar, make papel picado (pierced paper) flags or an ephemeral “sand” painting while learning about the a celebration of life where family members pay homage to loved ones. Students will also have a chance to decorate sugar skulls in the Aztec tradition of Dia de los Muertos.
Johanna has spent the last 25 years dedicated to the arts and teaching. She is a muralist and scenic painter who has been teaching art in both therapeutic and traditional settings. She is currently a resident artist at the Tucson Museum of Art in Arizona and has been doing workshops with youth culminating in a yearly exhibition dedicated to Dia de los Muertos. Her experience with this type of healing arts process has been deep and profound.
We are still in need of funding to present this workshop. Please click here to donate.
Thank you to Ray Costanzo, owner of the Iron Bridge, for donating the space to us for that day. More details on our “last hurrah” will be coming very soon!
GOOD BYE AND GOOD LUCK!
While we understand from your calls and emails that so many don’t want to see us go, the overhead costs and other factors won’t allow us to continue. Many have been calling, emailing, texting and Facebook messaging us to try to save the SHACK. We wanted to answer some Frequently Asked Questions we have received over the past couple weeks. We thank you all for your concern. We hope that we played a small part in your healing process and will continue to keep Sandy Hook and Newtown in our hearts, thoughts and prayers as we go our separate ways.
~ FAQ’s ~
WHY ARE YOU CLOSING?
The overhead costs involved with running a non-profit arts center far outweighed the small amount of donations we took in. Our director did not take a salary, however, 2 of the teachers were paid. Our free events were popular, however it doesn’t make sense to pay out a lot of money in operating expenses and overhead costs. We would rather give the money and supplies to another worthy local charity.
The art and music therapy sessions we offered were free, but not enough people signed up with so many other free events and activities in town all the time. There always seems to be something else going on at the same time we plan our events, even when we planned months in advance. While we offered the workshops for free, we did have to pay some of the teachers to present the workshops.
WHY NOT SET UP SHOP AS A MOBILE ARTS CENTER & DO “POP-UP” ART?
While this is a great idea, there still has to be volunteers to run the programs. Many of our volunteers have moved, gotten new jobs, gotten pregnant, have undergone surgery or have gotten involved in other charities associated with the tragedy of 12/14. We simply do not have enough man/womanpower.
HAVE YOU CALLED LOCAL REALTORS & BUSINESSES?
Yes, we have reached out to a local real estate agent, investors and many private owners who can not afford to donate space to us for free.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN LETTERS TO CHURCHES, CT ARTS COMMISISON, OTHER ORGANIZATIONS FOR HELP?
Yes, many, hundreds in fact. Many say they already donated to another charity or that they are struggling themselves.
MAYBE WITH MORE PRESS COVERAGE YOU CAN GET HELP. HAVE YOU CALLED THE PAPERS & THE NEWS?
We have had articles posted on local Patch.com websites, the Newtown Bee, Hamlet Hub, the News Times and have also been featured on Fox News and Radio 104.1.
WHY NOT HAVE A FUNDRAISER?
In the 6 months we were open we had 8 fundraisers. One was planned months in advance and then another group planned a huge event the same day as ours. Another was planned 2 months in advance and Danbury did their free Newtown night the same evening. Others were planned and we had low turnout because there are now so many local charities all planning fundraisers. We had to cancel the biggest fundraiser because people were getting us confused with the “Great Newtown Reunion.”
WHY NOT JOIN FORCES WTIH ANOTHER ARTS ORGANIZATION?
We have tried, many times to do this. Sadly, none want to work together.
HAVE YOU CALLED NEWTOWN ARTS COMMISSION, HEALING NEWTOWN, THE FIRST SELECTMAN?
Yes, yes and yes. See above.
HAVE YOU CALLED CRAYOLA, MELISSA & DOUG, HOME DEPOT, OTHER HUGE CORPORATIONS FOR DONATIONS?
Yes. They say they already donated to another Sandy Hook charity or that they only donate to “bigger” non-profits.
WHAT ABOUT THE SUPPLIES THAT WERE DONATED?
We have reached out to several local charities to donate any remaining supplies.
WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY THAT WAS DONATED?
We have spent all that was donated on supplies, teacher fees, rent and operating expenses. While we had some supplies donated we did need to purchase quite a bit more for the great turnout we had at many of our free events. We are actually “in the red” by a couple thousand dollars so we would appreciate anyone purchasing a t-shirt, bracelet, teddy bear, or a painting or by making a tax deductible donation by clicking here.
PLEASE DON’T GO!
We’re not going too far! We will still be teaching musical theatre classes and are currently searching for a space to rent. Every show we present is always tied in with a community service event because we like to teach kids they can help others through their gifts and talents. We will let everyone know as soon as we hear. For more information please call 203-501-7424 or email email@example.com