Van Buren’s Center for Art and Education is looking to raise more money to help pay for its summer art camps.

After a cost analysis last year, the center determined that the camps cost a total of about $30,000 each year, said Jane Owen, executive director for the Center for Art and Education.

So far this year, the center has been unable to reach that goal, she said, and have reached out to current sponsors asking for additional support.

"This is the first year we have had to write a letter to our supporters to ask for help in addition to what we normally get," Owen said.

Crawford County Library System works with the center to host the art camps at local libraries each summer for kids ages 6-14. This year’s camps are science themed, with kids learning how art and science compliment each other.

Mulberry, Alma and Van Buren already have held their camps, and Cedarville’s will be July 28-Aug. 1. The cost is $20 per child, but children who want to attend are not turned away for inability to pay, Owen said.

"It’s a great program," Owen said. "It’s a way for the kids to interact. They learn elements of art and social skills."

Miss Van Buren High School Breck Brammer was a volunteer this past week during the Van Buren art camp, but she used to attend. In fact, Brammer attended almost every year since she was little, she said.

"I think I started taking classes as early as I could, I think at 4," Brammer said. "I enjoyed it, [though] I’m not the best artist."

Attending the camp helped her to express her ideas better and gain confidence.

"I think just being able to have art…they never told you that you were wrong, or bad at it, because you weren’t. It was your interpretation," Brammer said.

Camp also helped her meet friends her age, including a boy she called an "amazing artist" that used his feet to draw because he had lost the use of his arms. They recently reconnected in high school, she said.

The art camp program has been in place since the center opened 37 years ago, Owen said. It started out in Van Buren, but has now spread to nine communities with 300-400 kids attending each year, she said.

Though the $20 fee helps offset costs, with transportation and paid staff, it actually costs the center about $60 for each child to attend, Owen said.

If the $30,000 is not raised this year, the already scheduled program will remain in place but the center will look at making cuts next year, Owen said.

"We’re going to do the program regardless, but we’ll have to offset costs if the money is not raised," Owen said.

Cuts will start with camps that have the least number of kids attending, which Owen said are generally in the rural communities, making it even more difficult for those children to attend other camps.

"We’ll keep the art center going, we always do somehow," Owen said. "But we need to be at a break even point on our programming, and we’re not going to make it this year on this program unless we get more support from the community.

For more information or to contribute, contact Owen at (479) 474-7767.