SAMA brings art to a region staying at home

In just a month, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Arts has hosted more than 20 live streaming classes for children and adults, reaching new community members.

Morgan Young, site coordinator of SAMA Bedford, said that she came up with the idea following Governor Wolf’s closure of businesses, schools and the museum in mid-March. She saw an opportunity for SAMA to continue to serve the community through art.

“I kept thinking of all the people at home that need a way to occupy their mind in a positive and constructive way during the quarantine,” she said. “I particularly thought of little kids being exposed to a constant stream of panic, fear and some pretty scary things.”

“Art is so many things, but to use it as a tool to help just felt perfect.”

A study published through the National Institute of Health in 2018 suggests that delving into the creative arts can reduce stress levels for people of any skill level.

Young recognized the opportunity to not only provide entertainment to the community, but to help both children and adults release some stress while isolated in their homes. She said it would be a great way to give people a break from “information overload” and express themselves creatively.

“Art is for everyone – especially in times when we all need a break,” Young said.

Thus far, SAMA Altoona, Bedford and Loretto have all hosted live streaming classes with staff, board members, volunteers and working artists all pitching in to bring art and positivity to the community.

Class topics have included a variety of subjects including sculpture, watercolor and a mask-making workshop so people can protect themselves during the pandemic.

Young said that despite having to act quickly under unexpected circumstances, launching the virtual series went smoothly. She said that they received an overwhelming reaction of people willing to share their knowledge.

“When I approached instructors with the idea, there was no hesitation to volunteer,” Young said. “It all came together as if it had been planned,” adding that with the help of Michal Wiles and her son, they set up a small pop-up production crew overnight.

According to Young, all of the instructors have already offered to do another segment.

Young said the response of the community also has been positive, with people reaching out to say they will visit the museum when it reopens to the public.

“It’s been a wonderful way to connect with the community,” she said. “We have heard everything from ‘you’ve inspired me to try’, to ‘my kids had the best time!'”

“I personally have found this to be one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on.”

Young said they plan to continue this project for the future, asking the community to “stay tuned” for further developments.

“We’ve all gone outside of our comfort zones to brave new territory and it has really paid off. As a crew, we’ve been helping people learn just how great art can be.”

If you join…

SAMA Altoona: Live streams for ages 8-13. 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.


SAMA Bedford: Live streams 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. www.facebook.com/SAMABedford/

SAMA Loretto: “Drink and Doodle” (21 and over). 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.


SAMA Ligonier: Video segments with local artisans available for viewing at www.facebook.com/SAMALigonier/

Viewers will soon be able to select from a playlist of subjects and hosts on the SAMA Youtube Channel.


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