By Sidhartha Wakade
The Steffen Thomas Museum of Art (STMA) held a luncheon honoring Kiwanis, an international group focused on helping children in local communities, on Thursday, June 6.
Kiwanis is comprised of local business leaders that donate money to fund programs for kids in the community.
Jennifer Sides, the president of the Madison Kiwanis, mentioned that Kiwanis does a lot locally despite being an international organization. The group has donated to the Boys and Girls Club, the Morgan County High School and the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Department.
The STMA is one of the many organizations that Kiwanis donates to, especially because of the youth programs they offer, Sides explained.
“It definitely promotes the youth,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important that we have something like this in our community that kids can come out and be a part of.
STMA art classes and educational programs are offered for grade-schoolers, college students and adults according to Roland Lewan, the director of the museum.
“In an area like this, a lot of people have never been to a museum,” Lewan said. “Yet we’re fining there is significant interest and talent that might be undiscovered if they didn’t have that exposure.”
Most of their programs are funded by grants, local business organizations or private donations, Lewan said. There would not be as many art programs at the museum if not for Kiwanis, he explained.
“Our outreach and educational programs could not operate without organizations like Kiwanis, so we would be picking and choosing what we could offer,” he said. “We would be offering it to far fewer classes or groups.”
Clare Wolfe, the director of Steffen Thomas Art Representatives, explained that the preservation of the museum is important for the kids and also the community at large. The classes coupled with the amount of art available for viewing adds to the value of the museum, according to Wolfe.
“This place is integral to the community,” she said. “We do so much educational outreach.”
Wolfe thinks that recognition of the museum and Steffen Thomas’s artwork will bring more funding from art collectors and enthusiasts. Her hope is that the funding from donations and increased revenue will allow the museum to be sustainable.
While Wolfe is worried about the decreased interest in museums as more entertainment and art becomes digital, she still believes that the experience of being in a museum and viewing art is one that people should have.
“To go to a museum, to stand in front of something that someone created is so valuable,” she said. “That’s why we do what we do.”