Southport Center, BCC’s outpost for continuing education classes in the performing and visual arts, continues to grow.
By: Rich Mina
If the Brunswick Community College’s Southport Center were a stock offering, I’d look to invest.
As course offerings and enrollment continue to expand at the fine arts and crafts education center, Director Barbara McFall’s vision gains focus. She recalls the opening in 2015: “We offered only two courses in painting and pottery with an enrollment of 15 students.” Currently they offer more than 67 classes in the fine arts to more than 760 students. That count is growing as the new semester begins this fall with an expanded curriculum.
McFall attributes the school’s success and growth as “a platform beneath the arts and crafts scenes in Southport and its immediate area.” Her passion for its success is another component that is immediately apparent.
As increasingly more local galleries and shops offer crafts and boutique items, students hope to see their works displayed at public showings and exhibits. McFall points out that student artist Kathy Lenihan recently sold some of her paintings at the Associated Artists of Southport’s Art Show in the town’s Franklin Square. Other students prefer keeping their projects for home display or family gifts.
The instructional staff includes experienced teachers and professional artist and craftspeople who love sharing their artistic talents with the students.
“The best part of this job is working with students as friends,” says art instructor Joseph Bardani.
This supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere encourages students to be comfortable with whatever skill level they bring to their art. Creating beginner and intermediate levels let students be themselves. Capping class sizes to 12 students develops an ideal student/teacher ratio for hands-on instruction.
My visit to the school reveals many cool undertakings in several classrooms. Teacher Jamie Hoover works with three students in his Music Recording and Production class. A midi-drum set and an LCD projector are helping student Cosmo Reed edit tracks on a laptop program. Nearby, Chris Lucas listens to tracks on a Cubase program for recording and editing. He will be an instructor in a new fall class offering of songwriting and recording.
Down the hallway Bardani works with seven art students at various stages of creation. He has been teaching here for two years and loves spending his summer days offering tips and support for eager students with their projects. Bardani moves about the room sporting his paint-stained Black Labs Matter / All Labs Matter dog t-shirt. There are no summer doldrums here, only smiles and looks of pride and determination.
In the final room, pottery is being glazed and painted under the watchful eye of instructor Kimberly Caroon. Student Cheryl Rogers is finishing up an Irish-green teapot for display in her home. Here again, several women are standing at tables with stained aprons creating their art. They interact with each other and their instructor, who proudly displays their works for our camera.
There is a buzz here that runs beyond summer classes throughout the year as residents grow increasingly aware of what BCC Southport can offer. McFall proudly points to new course offerings this fall to join the established favorites of art, pottery and sculpture, announcing plans for classes in songwriting, piano, fiber arts, photography and advanced fiction writing.
McFall is watching Southport’s “little secret” as it continues to grow within the space of their building, which was once Brunswick County’s Training School #1. In fact, McFall proudly reveals additional space now cleared for future growth, which will include sculptured welding classes and other classes on her radar. Her investment of time, vision and energy is paying huge dividends for the fledgling artist or the local resident looking to expand horizons. Many students are rekindling old hobbies and interests while others are just starting something fresh.
McFall is acutely aware of the growing appetite for art and artisans in Southport and declares that “success is timing.” Timing is also what makes the money in investments. If that is true, the mutual fund-like diversity of classes in BCC’s Southport Extension could become a solid investment.
Want to learn more?
Brunswick Community College’s Southport Center
701 N. Lord Street, Southport
Director Barbara McFall: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courses cost a very affordable $70 for a two-hour/ eight-week class, $125 for a three-hour/16-week class or $180 for a full four-hour/16-week class. This instruction is available through online registration or in-person registration at the Southport Center building.