THE MONTHAVEN Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) in Hendersonville is renowned for its touring exhibitions. The center hosts six to eight exhibitions annually, often with collections from world-famous artists like Picasso or award-winning artists like photojournalist Nick Ut. Exhibitions, however, are not the only things MACC does.
Monthaven’s mission is “to educate, elevate, and encourage our community through the transformative power of the arts,” and they take art education seriously. There are after-school programs, adult classes, summer camps, and veteran and outreach programs, and MACC’s 15 teachers work with over 800 enrolled students. Executive Director Cheryl Strichik said there is a lot that Monthaven offers.
“We have wonderful exhibitions, but more than that, we also have the art school and the incredible outreach programs going into the community,” Strichik said. “We’re just so much more than just an art museum.”
The first outreach program began when Strichik became the executive director nearly six years ago, with some of the teachers offering free art classes to kids at Children Are People in Gallatin. Strichik said they probably worked with 40 or 50 students the first year but have grown quite a bit since then.
“We started implementing the outreach program to go and take our classes to facilities throughout the community,” Strichik said. “We started with one outreach program, and today we serve about 10 outreach programs.”
Free art lessons are now offered at Cottage Cove and Shalom Zone who also work with children and for seniors and veterans at sites such as Traditions of Mill Creek, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9851, Grace Place, Hope and Healing at Hillenglade, and Veterans Recovery Center. Although they already taught classes at MACC, Strichik said they found it important to take their outreach programs out into the community.
“We quickly [realized] that a lot of children that maybe would like to do art were not going to be able to be at our art classes,” Strichik said. “It may be hard for them to get here. Maybe they don’t have the transportation or the adults or someone to get them here.”
She said that children will find ways to express themselves, and the arts allow them to do that. They can draw or paint in ways that use a different way of thinking and feeling.
“It’s really wonderful [that] we’re able as a community to allow children to have the opportunity to use the creative arts,” Strichik said. “The child has the opportunity for growth in their creative skills. We love to be a part of that.”
MACC also focuses on veterans, seniors, and other groups that could benefit heavily from the arts. The veteran program is incredibly unique, focusing less on learning how to create art and more on facilitating that emotional expression.
“One of the visions we had here was to have a healing arts program,” Strichik said. “Between the Lines is a program that’s developed for veterans specifically suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and they can use the healing arts as a way to possibly express things that they’re not able to say verbally.”
Together, those outreach programs reach several thousand participants, making art education one of the most important and influential things the Monthaven Center does. It will be even more so in the future, as they want to expand their educational opportunities. Strichik said part of that vision is to build a new, free-standing art school.
“We can increase our classes into more by being able to offer more mediums — more pottery and things like that, and metal classes. And then we also want to start our music school and offer music classes.”
A larger art facility means Monthaven will serve more Hendersonville residents. People in all stages of life can find something for themselves at MACC, whether it be an outreach program, a healing arts program, or even a peaceful stroll through their exhibits. GN