April 2, 2018
SHOP TALK

Art+Science=$425K

Darcy Schwartz, Artist owner, ArtReach, LLC, Worcester

Darcy Schwartz, founder, ArtReach

Founded: 2008

Employees: 8

Age: 56

Residence: Worcester

Education: Bachelor of fine arts in printmaking, Kansas City Art Institute; master of fine arts in printmaking, School of Visual Arts in New York

After working for greeting card maker Hallmark and textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for 20 years as an illustrator, Darcy Schwartz founded ArtReach in Worcester, noticing the curriculum at her children's school didn't leave much room for art education. Today, her business combines elements of STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, art and math) to help students express their creative side.

How much has the company grown?

We started with 10 kids. Once the word got out, all of the sudden, we had 300 children in all these programs. It has been a joy and a pleasure for me.

What was your revenue last year?

Last year, our total revenue was $425,000.

Where does that come from?

We charge for the after-school program, classes and birthday parties. We are not a nonprofit.

We charge anywhere from $25 to $150 per child for classes and the after-school program.

For birthday parties, they are outrageous. When I was growing up, for my birthday my mother said, "I have a cake. Bring your friends from the neighborhood." Now, these days, we'll have parties with a magic show and a fashion class. We'll charge $50-$60 per kid, but people will do it and have 40-50 kids.

Those two revenue streams are big.

Do you do fundraising?

For nonprofits, the fight for grants is huge, especially in a city the size of Worcester. It is huge everywhere, so we stay away.

However, we do go to companies and ask them to give money toward our programming. They don't always have to give money to 501(c)3s. They can give money to us. I've raised just under $62,000 in the last year from companies inside and outside Massachusetts.

I'll call companies and send them pictures of the programming, and some will send me like $500 or even $5,000. Every single dime of it goes back to the students and the studio.

What are your main classes?

We have the after-school immersion program, where children can come two to four days per week. We offer drawing, painting, printmaking and clay, which are the fine art disciplines.

We've gotten into sculpting with the visiting artist program. We have a painting day where you can just come and paint.

We have a STEAM learning program, which is a twice per week. We do everything from making wind-powered Legos to using Keva planks for building. We do 3D printing.

Which program uses science the most to create the art?

We have these awesome ozobods, where the kids learn computer coding. The kids will draw guidelines on canvas and make little obstacle courses using the 3D printer, and then when the ozobod follows the guideline and hits the different colors on the canvas, it will do different things to get through the obstacle course.

After fashion, this is our most popular program. It is really fun.

But fashion is the most popular?

We have 82 girls in the fashion program. Fashion falls under STEAM because of the sewing and the cutting. We are in our sixth season with our fashion program. We are working with the City of Worcester to maybe display the girls' work coming down the stairs at City Hall. We had our last show at The White Room at Crompton Collective in Worcester, because the theme was vintage.

How do the visiting artists help your programming?

Bringing in these local artists has been a dream for all of us. Right now, we have nine visiting artists, and we are going to try to add a few more.

We pay our visiting artists $20 per child per week, and the programs go for 4-6 weeks.

Not only do the kids learn the different types of art, but they learn you can have a job as an artist. You can be a fine artist, and you don't have to work at Hallmark or Houghton Mifflin, not that those aren't fine jobs.

You can just be an artist and create, and your work will sell. Maybe you aren't a 9-5 person, and you want to be a poet or a writer – we have those types of artists come – and you can make a living. You can have your own expression.

This interview was conducted and edited by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.

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