It all started with a group called Literacy Works holding a volunteer-led workshop called Writer’s Circle in the Inspiration Cafe. As so often happens at IC, one good deed inspired another. Staff members and participants agreed to continue meeting as a group and expand their reach to areas of the arts outside of writing. As the group grew, their projects became more ambitious. Sometime shortly after creating a performance piece based on their own experiences, known as The Fear Experiment, the group chose the name Creator’s Circle. Creator’s Circle is now led by Communication & Technology Coordinator, Sara Persily; they meet every Thursday afternoon to explore their creative pursuits, complete fun projects, and build a sense of community. The results have been strong friendships, increased awareness, and lots of fun. “The closest relationships I’ve formed with participants at IC have been through Creator’s Circle,” says Sara, “there are people who come regularly and I’ve formed friendships with them, but then it’s also been a great chance to meet people.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Interest in group activities can be difficult to cultivate and maintain. According to Sara, when she first began leading Creator’s Circle in September, sometimes as few as one participant would show up, sometimes no one would. Through hard work and positive attitudes on the parts of both staff and participants, the group now averages 3-4 attendees per week, and sometimes grows to even 7 or more bourgeoning artists. Other staff members have also gotten involved, either through attendance or leading a class. Paul Luikart, Housing Services Manager, recently led a workshop in creative writing. Sarah calls guest lectures like these, “a fun way to showcase different staff’s talents.” Guest artist volunteers have led workshops on topics ranging from ‘zines to bird house decorating.
Projects that have been particularly popular with participants include painting, writing poetry, and writing and performing original songs. Creator’s Circle is always looking for new and exciting ways to connect group members with the arts. Recently, they studied different periods of art history, such as Pointillism, and then made their own Pointillist artwork. The group has also taken inspiration from famous styles of architecture like Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained-glass windows. Whatever the topic, Sara explains that it’s a valued safe space for all involved, “we all have crazy lives and art can be really therapeutic. It’s nice to have a time set aside to use that part of your brain or just to relax.”
This group, which started as a single volunteer event, has grown to mean much more to many people in the Inspiration Corporation family. To its leader it means, “that everyone has hidden talents and interests and you can never know what is going to appeal to someone. I also love how it brings participants and staff together.”