In the space of just a few months, COVID-19 has unleashed itself with alarming speed, affecting one of the most fundamental, yet fragile sectors in Armenia, the arts. Terracotta studio, an open space where children and adults participate in different art projects, through various master classes, presentations and exhibitions, is the most recent recipient of an ASF grant.
When Terracotta studio founder, Nana Manucharyan, opened her very first and modest location some 10 years ago, she could hardly have imagined herself orchestrating 4 locations with around 150-200 students a year. This year was quite different.
“Nana carried the burden of taking care of her 9 employees and paid the rent of 4 empty studios out of pocket for 3 months straight.”
Due to COVID-19, the studios were shut down for most of the Spring season and even now class sizes are kept to under 10 students. Nana carried the burden of taking care of her 9 employees and paid the rent of 4 empty studios out of pocket for 3 months straight.
The financial burdens compared lightly to not being able teach her art students. A generous teacher and advocate of empowering the children of less privileged cities of Armenia, Nana was disheartened by having to close her studios and being away from her students for so long.
This also affected her future plans of opening a new location for the children of Gyumri. Before the onset of the coronavirus, Nana had already been in talks to open a new location in this city where the effects of the 1988 earthquake are still very much evident. She says “The people of Yerevan have already seen so much, sometimes they can’t see the true value of what they are learning with us, whereas the children from more rural areas can change their lives through the skills we teach them”. Since it has been quite difficult to recover from her current financial obligations, she has decided to put that project on hold although it seemed very promising both for Terracotta Studios and the children of Gyumri.
“The children from more rural areas can change their lives through the skills we teach them.”
Terracotta studio has also set in place a mentorship program, where bright and talented children who show a desire to learn more will be handpicked, and get the chance to develop their skills as apprentices. About 30 young girls have already gone through this program, some of which work with Terracotta Studio, and others going on to develop their own projects.
The most high performing location is the Yerevan branch and the profits of which help Nana cover her pro bono initiatives for her other locations in the more rural areas. Terracotta Studio organises many free events for children who don’t have the means to pay for their classes, giving them the opportunities and skills they need to pursue their artistic passions.
For more info on how to help Terracotta Studio, or similar projects, go to www.armeniasupportfund.org and click donate!