ArtsCenter courses bring education to community

Whether your interests include cooking, dancing, ceramics, or even drawing dinosaurs, the ArtsCenter of Carrboro has a class for you.

 Ceramics students Eva and Ramsey work on making critters during a Friday afternoon class.
Ceramics students Eva and Ramsey work diligently on making critters out of clay during a Friday afternoon class. (Staff photo by Rakela Miller)

With classes available for all ages and schedules, the ArtsCenter forms the key nucleus of the arts in Carrboro.

Shirlette Ammons, the Youth Arts Coordinator for the center, located at 300-G E. Main St., said that the center’s pride comes largely from its drive to keep the arts alive within school-aged children in the area.

“The art hall is threatened in school – we are so proud of the work the kids do and the kids we reach,” she said.

The ArtsCenter has an after-school arts program that runs everyday for young students up through eighth grade and also offers block classes for aspiring artists of all ages.

Having classes available each and every day school is in session “is our commitment to inspiring the community we serve,” the center’s website states.

The everyday program enrolls 36 kids, while the block classes enroll 10 artists – each course providing individual help and inspiration to students as well as a supportive group of peers.

Ceramics teacher Jason Abide offers one-on-one help to Klara making a bowl at the pottery wheel during class.
Ceramics teacher Jason Abide offers one-on-one help to Klara by showing her the proper technique of making a bowl at the pottery wheel during class. (Staff photo by Rakela Miller)

Jason Abide, a ceramic instructor at the center, said seeing his young students’ improvement in the arts is impressive.

“They make really cool stuff,” he said.

Abide teaches his ceramics course through one-on-one assistance in which he teaches each student the full technique of wheel throwing.

He describes the process as being similar to riding a bike – once a student gets a feel for the process they rarely forget the technique.

Students at the center said they had enjoyed watching their work improve over time.

“I like getting better making something that I haven’t made before,” said nine-year-old Charlie, who has taken ceramics at the ArtsCenter for three years. He expressed his interest in wanting to take more classes in order to explore all the things he could make in the future.

Another student in Abide’s class, ten-year-old Paul, said he reveled in creating an object from his own invention.

“I like the wheel. I just think it’s really fun to make something original. It’s fun to make 3D things out of imagination,” he said.

Most classes last two hours in the afternoon, but students said the time is over before they know it.

Emma, a 10-year-old who takes ceramics at the center, said the class “feels like 20 minutes.”

And at the end of the day, the students have a unique opportunity to use their imagination to create something they can bring home.

In fact, Emma she said she enjoys displaying her ceramics creations around her room at home.

Claire, also 10, said her favorite part of class is sculpting. She said her next project would entail her making a sculpture of a clay robot.

And while the students feel right at home at the ArtsCenter, they may have a new space to create their art very soon.

The ArtsCenter may soon move to downtown Carrboro in a building that could tower up to five floors, though plans are not yet finalized.

And with the possibility of a new space for the center on the way, Ammons expressed her excitement at the process of creating a more functional home for the center.

“The thought of the process of dreaming up an ideal space is inspiring,” she said.

For those interested in enrolling at the ArtsCenter, each block course lasts four weeks while ceramics courses last seven weeks.

All Youth Arts Blocks cost $65 for the general public and $60 for ArtsCenter Friends, or donators to the center.

Aside from classes, the ArtsCenter also hosts various concerts, comedy shows, and events. Tickets can be purchased online.

For more information about The ArtsCenter and everything it has to offer, visit their website at

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Edited by Andy Bradshaw

Author of the article

Rakela is a writer-photographer for the Carrboro Commons and a journalism student at UNC-Chapel Hill.