Family Sundays program continues at Barrie’s MacLaren Art Centre despite COVID restrictions

Still time to sign up for a winter semester course

The MacLaren Art Centre has taken big steps to make sure its Family Sunday courses can still work in an online setting.

The popular weekend event used to see some 40 families at the MacLaren any given Sunday, but the onset of the pandemic forced the centre to do the COVID pivot to an online forum. “It’s been working well for us,” Christina Mancuso, Education Officer for the MacLaren Art Centre, told Barrie 360. “It’s certainly been great to be able to see our return families come back to us virtually, and also to outreach to some new families that we haven’t worked with before. So, in certain ways that working virtually has expanded our reach.”

“It was a little bit of a learning curve at first,” continued Mancuso. “The McLaren is really invested in outreaching, working with, and developing relationships with our community. So, I felt it was really important that they were able to see myself or any other instructor or guest artists that is leading the program.”

Barrie event online

While the MacLaren had been offering curbside pickup of supplies required for the Sunday sessions at five bucks a pop during the pandemic, the most recent lockdown forced them to change perspective. Mancuso said sessions are now geared towards using cost-effective and easily obtainable supplies that you might be able to find around the home. “Just to make it affordable for families to get involved,” she pointed out. “Also, too, because of our current restrictions with lockdown, we couldn’t necessarily at that point provide a curbside pickup.” With Simcoe and Muskoka this week emerging from a stay-at-home order, Mancuso hopes to have news soon on when curbside pickup of supplies will be offered again.

While the pivot to an online forum has made it hard for the centre to provide the supplies needed to make art, Mancuso says it hasn’t diminished its ability to enlighten. “I love to always provide context and to give a little bit of our history, but in a very kind of easy, kind of entertaining way. It’s always nice to provide a background to what you’re doing with art, and to just give more information so that there’s some kind of context about what’s going to happen next, and why we’re doing something,” added Mancuso. “It’s nice to be able to learn a bit about the genre, learn a bit about an artist, and how it can apply to the art-making that follows.”

Maclaren Access Art

The program’s winter session runs until March 28, with plenty of opportunities to sign up for the zoom-based classes in advance. There is no cost, and signing up is as easy as heading to the MacLaren website and filling out some basic information.

Maclaren’s virtual Family Sundays is not the only program the centre is offering for families looking to enrich their home with art. “We have a slew of different programming for families that are free at the moment,” concluded Mancuso. “We have an amazing program called Van Gogh From Home; Van Gogh is our signature artists in the school’s program that we deliver to elementary schools throughout Simcoe County. And for right now, especially for parents who need some ideas, while they’re homeschooling their children, or just want to offer some more art-making opportunities, we have a good roster of art activities that parents can choose from.”

Visit the MacLaren Art Centre website for more information about ongoing and upcoming programming.