The Northfield Arts Guild announces that, effective immediately, the A+ Autism and the Arts programs (A+ Art Club, A+ Holiday Mart, A+ Marketplace, A+ Aspire, and Summer Art Mart) will no longer be a part of the program offerings at the Northfield Arts Guild. Laura Goodwin, the program’s founder and director, has chosen to move the A+ programs to another location (to be determined).
The Arts Guild has been honored to host the A+ Autism and the Arts program since its inception in 2010. The first individual program, the A+ Art Club, began as a weekly art class during the academic year that brings together club members with local professional artists and peer mentors to explore and create art in various mediums.
Based on its success of building community, interpersonal skills, and tangible arts and life skills, the program expanded in 2011 to include the Summer Art Mart program. Participants engage in a six-week immersive workshop which gives participants the opportunity to develop and create artful objects for the marketplace and develop social, business, and artistic skills in a well-structured, safe social environment that empowers them as entrepreneurs who contribute to Northfield’s rich arts scene. Summer Art Mart then expanded in the fall of 2015 to include A+ Marketplace, which takes the idea of art object production to the next level, culminating in a final sale at the annual Winter Walk Celebration.
Lastly, in 2016, after the community requested expanded program offerings, the A+ Aspire program launched as an extension of residency work with the Lifeworks-Hastings group that started in 2013. A+ Aspire takes the A+ model and adapts it to teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities during an eight-week program in the summer.
Sian Muir, Board President of the Guild, shared that “the community that has been built by and through the A+ Autism and the Arts program cannot be underestimated, and the program has verifiably impacted hundreds of lives for the better. It is a shining example of a model that places emphasis on safe environments, collaboration, and community building.”
Executive Director Alyssa Herzog Melby said, “We thank Laura for her vision and the tremendous amount of time, energy, and passion that Laura has put into the program to make it the wonderful success that it is today. We are saddened that the program will not be continuing under the auspices of the Northfield Arts Guild, but we wish Laura and the A+ program the best as it continues to change lives through the creative possibilities of the arts. She has laid a foundation for the Arts Guild to better live its mission of being inclusive to all people in our community, and we are forever indebted to her for that.”
Herzog Melby continued, “The Arts Guild remains committed to welcoming people of all abilities into our programming. We invite participants of A+ back to the Arts Guild at any time to pursue their artistic endeavors, and we hope they know that they will always have a creative home here and be a part of our creative community.”
The Northfield Arts Guild gratefully acknowledges the many individuals who have supported the A+ programs over the course of the last seven years, as well as the many organizations who have given support, such as Women in Northfield Giving Support (WINGS) and the Autism Society of MN.