Behind the Access Doors: Community Outreach Coordinator
By Andrea Hayes, Visitor Services Representative
Jobs at the Columbus Museum are diverse and full of excitement. One such position is that of Community Outreach Coordinator. After sitting down with Kennan Ducey for a chat, I got to see some of the behind the scenes workings of her position here at TCM.
Andrea Hayes: First, we’ll start with a general question: what is your title? Kennan Ducey: I am the Community Outreach Coordinator at The Columbus Museum.
AH: What does the Community Outreach Coordinator do?
KD: As Community Outreach Coordinator, I work with partner organizations within our community to organize events both onsite and offsite. I also have a series of programs that involve our community partners typically.
AH: So what types of programs do you put together?
KD: With our community partners I have programs like Access for the Arts, which our partner is the Alzheimer’s Association. We work closely with them to provide a once a month time for early-stage Alzheimer’s individuals and their care partners to come to the Museum. Each session is an hour and a half long. They come here and we do a tour and an art-making activity.
AH: That sounds like fun and a very beneficial program. So, what is a typical day at TCM like for you?
KD: I would like to say that there is not so much as a normal day at TCM for community outreach. Usually, I’m here in the mornings, but in the afternoons I’m usually out and about. So another program would be after school art. Every Wednesday I travel to Hannan Elementary school and the following Wednesday I travel to Georgetown Elementary School. I work with their after school programs and provide art-making opportunities for the students. Every time I visit we’re looking at artwork that is here on display at TCM and creating their own interpretation or something around it, based on it. So they’re, twice a month, learning about our collection and creating art.
AH: That’s great! So with community outreach what you do is you spend time helping get the community involved in art and helping TCM become a bigger part of the community.
KD: Exactly, yes! I have different programs also. Something newer than we’re starting is with Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia. Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia and Boy Scouts of America have already been previous partners where we offer individual sessions to earn their artist badges here at TCM. But something that we’re starting this year is having specific days for each level of Girl Scouts. And they’ll also receive their artist badge that day. So, we’re changing things around. We’re trying new ways to revamp previous programs because nothing should stay the same and it’s really great to try new things. That also goes great with ARTiculate.
AH: Tell me more about that. KD: That is for K-12 youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Previously this program took place at Hannan elementary and I would go there and see four different classrooms in about an hour and it would move pretty quickly. But we have changed it up to make it what you said, open to all, to bring it to the Museum so other children and their families are able to participate. So beginning on June 18th we’ll host our first ARTiculate of 2020. It’ll be from 9 to 10:30 am. We’re opening before the Museum and that’s to help create a sensory-friendly environment. During the hour and a half that we’re together, we’ll have studio time. We’ll also explore the galleries and have gallery activities. It is free and open to any K-12 youth on the spectrum and their caregivers and family.
AH: How did you get involved with TCM?
KD: Well, I could say 30 years ago. But from early on Growing up my father lived near here and we would walk to TCM on the weekends together and I would explore with him. He also instilled art in my life. And as far as my other involvement with TCM I would just keep up with exhibitions. A former colleague and friend was so kind as to let me know this position was available, and it was great timing for me to move into a new facet of education because it is totally different from classroom education.
AH: So, what do you like most about your job?
KD: What I like most about my job is the fact that I get to work with such a diverse population of people. Especially the children I get to work with [who] are a hoot and a half. I really enjoy getting to know the new students, especially since we’ve expanded to Georgetown Elementary and just immediately how friendly and open and welcoming…and we’ve just created such bonds. Also, I really just enjoy bringing the art party to town! What I didn’t tell you so much before is as Community Outreach Coordinator I do all of the festivals and events in our area. So, I get to bring the art party to town courtesy of The Columbus Museum. So, whether that is Spooktacular or Christmas at Moon Lake or ArtBeat in April, I’ll be there with a fun, hands-on art-making activity that’s for everyone to do and enjoy. Another part that’s really cool about my position is that it’s all free community. Which I think speaks volumes to our institution as TCM to be able to have such a position with so many different programs and all of those programs are free and open to the community. That I believe is a blessing for Columbus and our area and it’s just cool that I get to be a part of it.
AH: I agree. You have an awesome job! So another question I have is: What do you like most about TCM? KD: What I enjoy most about it is really getting to see and learn what makes a Museum. Previous to this position I had not worked in a Museum before. It’s been so cool to get to know artists, to meet artists. It’s been inspiring to work in a building in which you’re able to look at all this art and then take that and help create a program or a project that’ll help inspire others. But just being in this building itself and all the daily functions of it. And who doesn’t want to be surrounded by beautiful things daily?
AH: Do you have any final comments that you’d like to share?
KD: It’s more than fun to be able to go into some of the areas that I go into and help spread self-expression, creativity, and joy in lives because life is life and we all struggle with things and go through things. For instance, being a caretaker is hard no matter what the disease is, but to be able to shed a little light and laughter and happiness and learn a new thing or two is beautiful and I get to be a part of that in our community. That’s what art was for me. It was my safe haven. And that’s why I always wanted to be an art teacher in some form or fashion. For me, art isn’t just what I do for myself, it’s what I can do and share with others. So, that’s what I like most about community outreach.