Foundation awards grants for the arts; Southington Library to purchase 3D printer

The Southington library has received a grant from the Community Foundation of New Britain to fund two upcoming arts programs – a canvas mural and a three-dimensional printer.

As part of its most recent round of grants, the foundation has awarded funding to libraries in each of the four towns they represent – Southington, Plainville, Berlin and New Britain. In a larger-scale project, the foundation has also partnered with the libraries to introduce e-readers.

“We have learned a lot during that process about the value of libraries as centers for arts,” said Jim Williamson, president of the foundation. “Art and music budgets for schools have been cut over the years, but the libraries have been doing wonderful things. This was very much a collaborative effort and we were delighted to make these grants happen for these outstanding programs.”

Thanks to a portion of its $5,841 grant, Southington’s library will now be able to purchase a Makerbot Replicator II printer, which uses a corn-starch based plastic filament to mold objects designed by users.

“They have been around for a while, but mostly for industry,” said Library Director Sue Smayda. “It’s only recently that a consumer version has been made. Someday we might all have these in our homes.”

The powerful technology has many possibilities and the library plans to introduce it to the community with a project that will invite teenagers to design characters. These characters will then be used in a stop-motion production by younger children. The library also intends to host classes on using the three-dimensional printer.

The grant also made possible another program at the library that will likely be more familiar to Southington residents – a new mural. Mary DeCroce, president of Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA), is expected to lead a youth program where participants will help conceive the mural’s theme and eventually contribute to its creation. SCCA has added many murals to the landscape of Southington, although this one is unique because it will be on a canvas.

“This way, it can be moved,” Smayda said. “We’re hoping to have a new library building someday and we wouldn’t want it on a wall that might get knocked down eventually.”

Meanwhile, the Plainville library received a $2,000 grant for the graphic designer Joe Molnar to teach a series of classes on the art of illustration.

Molnar, who lives in Plainville, will lead six classes for high school students in the summer. In the fall, classes will be offered to middle schools.

“The foundation is eager to promote the arts in the area,” said Library Director Peter Chase. “Several libraries are working on this, so we looked at what we could do and we knew that we had this illustrator in town.”

The classes will focus on the art of illustration for popular media and will culminate in an exhibition of student work. The library has made it a priority to introduce the community to the artistic talent among Plainville’s youth. A reception for a student art show was just held on Friday, May 3.

The foundation also awarded a $1,500 grant to the Berlin library and a $2,150 grant to the New Britain library for similar art-themed programs. Among the grants unrelated to the arts, Southington’s Early Childhood Collaborative received a $13,000 grant.

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