A Mingei staffer hands out art materials as part of the museum’s distance learning programs. Photo credit: Courtesy, Mingei

Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park received a two-year $227,000 Institute of Museum and Library Services CARES Act Grant in support of its pandemic outreach programs.

They include distance learning, along with new engagement programs to support socially isolated seniors.

The museum is the only cultural institution in San Diego to receive the funding out of 1,701 applicants. The institute issued 68 grants across the nation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to reimagine how we engage with our communities,” says Rob Sidner, the Mingei’s executive director and CEO, “and we’re honored to be a recipient of the IMLS CARES Act Grant which will greatly support our efforts to provide education and inspiration to students, seniors and families.”

The museum had a head start on community engagement due to work completed prior to the pandemic.

When officials embarked on a renovation project two years ago, they formed partnerships with local libraries, schools, community centers and other arts and culture hubs to continue sharing creative projects around the San Diego region.

With the additional grant support, the museum will develop distance engagement programs with hands-on art-making opportunities offered via digital platforms.

These at-home programs combine mailed art supplies, video instructions and opportunities to connect with museum staff via social media and mail.

The Mingei will expand two existing programs, Family Sunday and Mingei Away – a third-grade arts education program – while also launching a new project with two nonprofit partners, Elderhelp and Jewish Family Services of San Diego, to reach isolated seniors.

An estimated 100 families, 300 students and 200 seniors will be reached in monthly art-making projects over the next two years.

This project also aims to develop new, long-term strategies and solutions for the Mingei to connect with communities, both on-site and for those who rarely visit.

“The pandemic has rewritten our daily activities,” says Jessica Hanson York, the Mingei’s deputy director and chief advancement officer, “and taking action now to initiate meaningful connections with our community will allow us to collectively have a voice in how the virus scripts our future.”

– Staff reports

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