ArtPlay readies for second year, registration open

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artplay_webThis time a year ago, Kimberly Kirklin was rushing around frantically inside the ArtPlay house, peeking her head in and out of rooms to see the renovations left to complete before a Jan. 18 opening.

Now? Now when she enters the beautifully restored Victorian home, Kirklin’s senses are put at ease by the sights and sounds.

“It went from an old vacant house to a beautiful place in which people fill the halls with sound and laughter,” says Kirklin, education and outreach director. “There are kids and adults coming every week who feel they are a part of this program and this beautiful house. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.”

With 2012 just a few weeks away, ArtPlay has opened its registration for next semester’s classes on its website at A complete list of classes is available online and can accommodate ages ranging from pre-kindergarten to adults. UAB faculty, staff and students can have their $25 class registration fee waived by calling 975-4769 to register. Scholarships and financial aid packages also are available online.

“We really do have something for everyone at ArtPlay,” Kirklin says. “We continue to grow semester by semester, and we’re excited about our third season and all the new offerings we are bringing to the community.”

Many popular classes will return for the spring semester, including a range of theater and visual arts classes for adults and children. One of this past spring’s most popular classes was the children’s Meet the Orchestra class, and it will return for spring 2012. Meet the Orchestra is taught in conjunction with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

“Kids in this class meet a new instrument that’s part of the orchestra each week,” Kirklin says. “And at the end, they go to a special Alabama Symphony Orchestra performance where they will have the opportunity to meet with conductor Justin Brown.”

Another popular returning class is the Art of Music Production taught by jazz guitarist and recording artist extraordinaire Eric Essix, artist coordinator for the Alys Stephens Center. This class shows participants the process of producing a song and the art form of the production process.

A new class for the spring semester Kirklin expects to be popular will be a hand-sewing class. Participants will learn many different types of stitches and sewing methods that can be used to create bigger pieces of art, quilts or clothing, among other items.

The class will be taught by Lillis Taylor, daughter of popular Birmingham artist Trés Taylor.

“It’s going to be a very versatile class,” Kirklin says. “You’ll be able to take what you learn and create art work or useful items for your home or to give to family and friends.”

Students and faculty from UAB’s music department will continue to provide private music instruction, and partnerships with teaching artists from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Birmingham Museum of Art and Alabama Ballet will continue.

ArtPlay — a cultural arts-education center for the Birmingham community — is the result of years of research and planning that began with the vision of and generous donation from long-time Alys Stephens Center supporter Jane Stephens Comer.

Comer’s life dream was to create a place that would give students the opportunity to encounter all genres of visual and performing arts in an innovative environment.

Kirklin says the first year was a success, and she expects greater strides in 2012.

“The community response has just been great,” she says. “People are excited about the programs we have to offer, including our classes and free outreach programs. We’ve consistently met our ever-increasing goals for enrollment, and I think it’s because we provide innovative arts-education programming in a collaborative and holistic environment that endeavors to educate, inspire and nurture creative growth and self-expression. We’ve had a wide range of participants, from young children to college students to some who were visual artists or performers earlier in their life but went on to professional careers and now want to reconnect with those art forms.

“We want people to use our classes to help them explore and find their creative voices and become lifelong learners in the arts.”