Creativity
This Online Database Can Help You Find an Art Class Near You
Photo by Steve Debenport, via Getty Images.

Photo by Steve Debenport, via Getty Images.

While professional and aspiring artists abound across the globe, LaVonne Ewing, co-founder of the website Art Cantina, thinks there could be more people making art today—if only it was easier to find art classes.
Several years ago, Ewing and her business partner Charlie Bogusz founded Art Cantina, an online directory of art teachers, art centers, and art therapists offering in-person instruction. Artists of all levels can visit the site to find listings for classes in a wide range of disciplines, from painting, drawing, and sculpture to mosaic, ceramics, and photography. You can also search by location and type of instruction, like private lessons, art therapy, or courses offered through museums and community centers.
Ewing and Bogusz—who, between the two of them, have backgrounds in publishing, design, and sales—hope that Art Cantina will become a resource for people to find art lessons, as well as a tool for art teachers and art schools to grow their businesses. “We want to make art education more profitable for teachers and more accessible for students,” Ewing said.
Courtesy of Art Cantina.

Courtesy of Art Cantina.

The concept for Art Cantina emerged after the founders met at a benefit art auction in their home state of Colorado. Ewing and Bogusz discovered a shared love for art, as well as a shared frustration that art classes weren’t particularly easy to find—for adults or kids. They were hard-pressed to find a comprehensive database of art teachers and lessons online, Ewing recalled, “so we decided to try creating one ourselves.”
They began by reaching out to local painters and sculptors in Colorado who they knew offered lessons. These artists became the first “art education providers” to list their services on Art Cantina. But Ewing and Bogusz wanted to facilitate connections beyond the Colorado art community, too.
The process of expanding the network of teachers, however, has been slow. A search for options in some states and countries yields little or no listings. When looking for art instruction in Ohio, for instance, only three teachers come up; and, as of yet, no instructors based in Alabama or Minnesota are listed.
It’s still early days for Art Cantina, and according to Ewing, the site’s main goal for 2018 is to expand its directory of educators, broadening both its geographic reach and breadth of disciplines offered.
Courtesy of Art Cantina.

Courtesy of Art Cantina.

In order to attract more instructors, Ewing and Bogusz have aimed to make membership to the site easy and affordable. Teachers and schools can join the site at one of two subscription levels. The basic offering is free and comes with a short profile, while a premium subscription costs under seven dollars per month, and includes a longer profile and more opportunities for promotion on social media, among other perks.
As more instructors join Art Cantina, Ewing and Bogusz also hope to reach a wider range of art students: those looking to engage with art, hone their technical skills, or find an art therapist. “We see potential students as anyone from kids whose parents want them to take a break from technology, to retirees who want to take on a new hobby, to war veterans who could benefit from art therapy,” explained Ewing.  
In an era when arts funding is under threat, Ewing sees Art Cantina as an urgent resource, both for art instructors and aspiring artists. “As schools are getting their art programs cut, parents and homeschoolers are looking for ways to integrate art into their children’s lives,” she explained. “We hope to help people find alternatives.”
Alexxa Gotthardt is a Staff Writer at Artsy.