Bella Vista: Young Artists at the Fleisher Art Memorial]

A Hundred Year Idea

Sitting on Catharine Street in Bella Vista, the Fleisher Art Memorial building has hosted different arts for over one hundred years. Originally the Graphics Sketch Club was for lower-income students, today the building continues to offer art classes for members of the surrounding community.

Andy Forrest walks towards the entrance to the Fleisher Art Memorial.

“The classes are very rigorous, much like in college,” explained Caitlin Perkins. “But very affordable.”

Perkins moved to Philadelphia to study printing at the University of the Arts, graduating in 2004. Since April she has managed the adult programs at Fleisher Art Memorial.

Living two blocks away from the building, she said she sees Fleisher as an anchor to the Bella Vista neighborhood. As the demographics changed and began to include a larger Hispanic demographic, Fleisher Art Memorial adapted by adding a bilingual Spanish-English art class. The foundation makes a point to ask the community around it what they want, and accommodate towards it.

 Putting up Pictures

Andy Forrest uploaded a new post to the organization’s facebook page.

Changes occur not only in programing. The foundation uses social media to present themselves in new ways.

“For us, being a visual organization, we can immediately share artwork and take pictures of what the teens are doing in a particular project,” said Director of Development, Rebecca Bolden. “We can post that on Facebook and make it available.”

The Fleisher Art Memorial’s Facebook page has almost 6,000 “likes,” a number which Bolden said has jumped in the recent years.

“We also just launched last year a program called Color Wheels which is our mobile art studio. And when we have programs in the community that’s when I think Facebook and Twitter are especially effective,” explained Bolden. “We do 25 or more of those events a year we don’t necessarily have the capacity or the resources to send out a mailing or produce a glossy piece for each one of these events.”

While the Fleisher Art Memorial has been able to utilize Facebook to engage the community, there is still further to go. Bolden admitted while their Facebook usage is strong, other mediums such as Twitter have not been as effective. The reasoning, she explained, is due to the faculty’s personal use of Facebook over Twitter.

Social Media has been an effective tool for Fleisher Art Memorial. With their small budget and trying to serve an entire community, the use of mediums such as Facebook has helped them spread their information in new ways.

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