United Way aids Norfolk Arts Center in providing arts education, programming | News

Ahead of a significant performance, Elley Coffin felt something tugging on her shirt sleeve.

As she turned around, a young audience member eagerly spoke of her excitement of being at her first theater play. Coffin recalled it as a heartwarming experience.

“That’s why we do this. … It brings in students from all over Northeast Nebraska,” said Coffin, program coordinator at the Norfolk Arts Center.

The Norfolk Arts Center is an art agency in Norfolk that hosts and plans a number of local exhibits, community events, arts education and programming. The agency receives funding through several avenues, which includes a combination of state grants, Nebraska Arts Council endowment funds, tiered membership options for families and corporations and United Way. The United Way funding covers about 8% of the Norfolk Arts Center budget, a 5% increase from 2021.

Funding also goes toward new program development. One of those new programs is ArtistsDRIVEN, which aims to encourage high school students to participate in artist-led workshops. The Norfolk Arts Center is able to offer this at no cost to these students through funding like United Way.

“We have had a desire from our community for people of all ages to attend artist-led workshops and programming like this. By developing our ArtistsDRIVEN program, we have been able to open up the conversation with artists to create an atmosphere for them to be comfortable to lead workshops for all ages, from youth through adults,” said Sherry Ruden, executive director of the Norfolk Arts Center.

With these funds, the center was also able to feature an activity during ’Fork Fest called Aluminum Pour this past October. Several people participated, according to Ruden.

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