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Connecting to Community through Art

The Canton Museum of Art has been an institution in Canton since its founding in 1935. They're a smaller art museum compared to their regional counterparts in Ohio, but have a strong connection to the community through art.

The museum strives to be an inclusive place for all types of people throughout their lives. Many of the staff today were shaped by the art camps or field trips they experienced as children. Working there now lets them give those opportunities of inspiration to others. That close relationship with the community through art education is what sustained the museum during the beginning of the government mandated shutdowns.

Because their full-time staff is 9 people, their capacity to test out digital offerings has always been something they wanted to do, but other things always took priority. The initial closures challenged them to try new things and become fully versed in various types of digital content. They've mastered Facebook Live art receptions, "Museum To Go: Take Out" became a popular YouTube series with projects kids can complete at home, created buzz for new exhibits with in-depth virtual artist talks and started hosting curated virtual museum tours for schools and other groups. These virtual offerings expanded their community from Canton, Ohio to all over the world.

Their Finance Director, Kristina Belliveau, is a self-described huntress for grants. She found out about the canton CARES grant, applied and got it.

"Working with [ECDI] was a dream come true. It's hard to get a hold of grant administrators because they're busy. But I didn't find that with ECDI at all," Says Belliveau. "I can't say enough good things about Douglas. I wish I could work with him on every grant."
Erica Emerson, Education Director

The Canton Museum of Art used the funds to upgrade new equipment for their digital offerings and covered payroll for their full-time staff.

The silver lining from this whole experience has been the museum staff being able to rise to the challenge of continuing their work, despite patrons not being able to visit. Even though they couldn't host people in the museum, they were still able to bring the community together virtually. Looking to the future the museum, they are going to invest more heavily in the technology to share their programming with their new broader community.

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