$200,000 Grant From KeyBank Will Help People With Disabilities Use Art to Express Themselves

Apr 1, 2021 11:00 AM ET
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Expressing yourself is not always easy. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the right words, paint the right picture or sing the right note. For people living with disabilities, expressing themselves can be even more of a challenge. A program in Jamestown, NY that has long helped people living with disabilities use art for expressing will grow further, thanks to a $200,000 grant from KeyBank, in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation.

The Resource Center (TRC) has been providing services to persons with disabilities in the Chautauqua County area since 1958 and since its inception art has been a hobby and passion of the people who depend on it. When TRC’s first educational classes began in 1959, arts and crafts were key components of daily lesson plans.  

Art has remained an important facet of TRC over the years, and to give more people the opportunity to experience the arts. In 2007 TRC collaborated with area arts organizations and independent artists to offer classes in painting, mixed media, dance/movement, drama, music, and song writing.  The results were tremendous and convinced TRC to add a full-time art instructor to its staff.  In the ensuing years, works created by people with intellectual disabilities at TRC have been featured exhibits locally and across New York State, and some of the artists have won awards.

“One of the things that intrigued us so much about TRC was the long, successful history they have with their art program,” said Elizabeth Gurney, Director of Corporate Philanthropy for KeyBank and Executive Director of the First Niagara Foundation. “The opportunities they provide their clients to express themselves in such a unique way has become a template for many organizations in the region and around the country.” 

The success of its art program led TRC to explore ways to expand the program.  But because the program is currently housed within a state-certified facility, only people enrolled in TRC’s Day Habilitation Program can participate.  This lead TRC to create the Edgewater Art House, which will be the new home of The Resource Center’s award-winning art program for people with disabilities. Since it will be a non-certified site, it can serve more people, including those who do not attend TRC’s Day Habilitation Program, as well as by people who participate in TRC’s behavioral health programs.

The Edgewater Art House will be developed on property The Resource Center owns on Eighth Street in Jamestown, adjacent to TRC’s Edgewater Day Habilitation Program that opened last year.  An existing structure will be renovated to create the Edgewater Art House.  The facility will offer many opportunities for art classes including painting, drawing, mixed media, and ceramics.  A gallery space will allow those participating in the art classes to showcase their art.

“This new facility will be a huge asset for students, the Jamestown community and the region as a whole,” said Gurney. It will create even more opportunities for self-expression and inclusion that will help lead to long-term success in school, work and life.”