The Athens Art Guild continues to maintain its presence in Athens during the summer: from selling its art at the Athens Farmers Market to creating a new initiative, the guild continues to show its support to the people of Athens.

Beth Weingroff, president of the Athens Art Guild, said in the past the guild would offer grants to art teachers in Athens to help purchase art supplies for their classrooms. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, schools were not in session and therefore funding the art classes did not seem feasible. 

Weingroff and the rest of the guild decided they needed to create a new initiative to continue their show of support to the children in Athens. The guild ultimately decided on creating “Art-In-A-Bag” art bags.

“Since we have a weekly presence at the Athens Farmers Market, we decided to tie the Art-In-A-Bag to our presence at the market,” Weingroff said. 

Betty Ranck, board member of the Athens Art Guild, volunteered to lead the initiative. In the process of beginning the initiative, the guild put together a list of art projects aimed at younger children, created a list of supplies and instructions and filled the bags with supplies for the children to do the projects at home. 

Set to be a once per month event at the weekly Saturday market, the art bag giveaway took an hour and a half to distribute all 30 of the art bags. Weingroff said the new initiative was a success and overall made a positive impression. 

“Once people realize that we're giving these away, then they're very appreciative,” Ranck said. “People even offered to make a donation. I feel like it was very well received by parents, because it’s going to be a fun thing they could do together with the kids.”

Weingroff said hopefully in the future, the guild will be able to display all of the projects the kids create. With this new initiative, the guild believes it will be given the opportunity to show off the creativity the children in Athens hold.

Weingroff and Ranck believe the art bags can become a worthwhile, bonding activity families can do together. Additionally, the guild encourages everyone to visit the market this summer and view the variety of art being sold.

Laurie Vancouver, treasurer of the Athens Art Guild, said the market has potential to have many more artists join this summer. Vancouver said the market is a big attraction for many local people and, hopefully, the new initiative will garner further interest and enthusiasm from more Athens residents this summer.

“Children love exploring and trying new things, and to be able to foster that with art is wonderful,” Vancouver said. “It's a wonderful opportunity for us to help them, and hopefully it will spark their imagination to try some things on their own.”

The artists of the guild want people to take the opportunity and visit the market this summer to meet new artists, support the new initiative and become inspired by the individual art pieces.

“There's always new members joining the art guild, and they're all part of a formula where there's a jury that takes a look at the artisans art and perceives that it's a high caliber, and one that the public would appreciate seeing, and maybe purchasing,” Cricket Jones, member of the Athens Art Guild, said. “They have a guarantee that they're going to see high quality art.”

With the help of the Athens Art Guild’s website, people interested can stay involved with news and updates regarding the guild. The members of the guild look forward to meeting new people, seeing familiar faces and supporting Athens through their work.