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Daily Inspiration: Meet Sandy Harsch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandy Harsch. 

Hi Sandy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My name is Sandy Harsch. I was teaching Art at a beautiful mansion when the world stopped. During 2020, I was let go. No field trips meant no need for teachers. I had been teaching Art for 24 years, so I was devastated. I asked God what He wanted me to do. The answer came to me, “Start an Art Center.” By the time I mentioned it to my daughter, Tommi Lea, I already had found an empty building that I thought would be perfect. She loved it. I mentioned it to my friend, Bonnie Rack. She said, “I’m in!”

Bonnie and her husband, Gerry Rack, had been through a tragedy that no parent should ever have to endure. They lost their 2 ½ year-old daughter, Gracie Lynn, to a tragic accident in March 2020. The dedication of Bonnie and Gerry to the Reading Community Arts Center was a way for them to begin to heal from their loss. Honoring Grace’s life by naming the Hall after their daughter was a way to memorialize her and her love to dance, her love for joy, and her love for life. We are happy to have the Hall of Grace as our space in the Reading Community Arts Center, where we will exhibit art for the community and where people can celebrate weddings and other happy occasions.

Many hurdles were placed in our way from the very beginning, but each one faded away almost miraculously. Donations of time and talent from friends and local businesses helped us to get bathrooms, walls, lights, signs, paint, and hours and hours of tireless labor. It truly warms my heart to feel the love shown by the community to get the Reading Community Arts Center open. People understood the need for a place to gather to teach dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. They saw how important it is to renovate and keep this beautiful historic building. Thanks to all who have helped and will continue to help with their time, talent, or treasure, the families of Reading and surrounding communities will be the beneficiaries.

We opened our doors just one day shy of one year of having bought the building. We purchased the building, which was originally Leuger’s Furniture Store, in Oct. 2020. Our first art exhibit was “Transformation” showing how the building looked when we bought it, to compare to the beautiful venue it is today. Since then, we have hosted new art exhibits monthly and have received Best New Development Award from the local Chamber of Commerce.

Presently, we teach music lessons of violin, viola, cello, ukulele, piano, guitar, and voice. I am happy to say that my very talented daughter, Tommi Lea, is our Lead Educator. We offer dance classes for children and adults. Our first show in our Black Box Theater on Aug. 19th, was a huge success! We offer painting classes for adults and children. We also exhibit new and exciting art shows in our Hall of Grace gallery and our Benson Street Gallery windows. We have bridal receptions and weddings booked in our venue which will help support the continuation of the arts.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The challenge is getting people to know we are here and what we do. We serve three main functions: We teach all of the Arts here, Visual Arts, Theater, Dance, and Music. We are an Art Gallery that changes our exhibits monthly. We are a venue for weddings and receptions as well as corporate events. The support from the community will help us to keep our doors open for years to come. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
After I graduated from WKU with a Bachelors of Fine Art Degree, my husband, Tom, and I started a small business creating signs. During that career, I was asked to teach Art at our children’s school, Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School. That was 27 years ago this Fall, and I have been teaching ever since. When the original St. Pete’s closed in 2007, a small group of dedicated volunteers started a new school, Sts. Peter and Paul Academy. I volunteered there for 13 years teaching Art. I enjoy sharing my love of the Arts with the next generation. Now, while I teach full-time at Bethany School in Glendale, 1st-8th grade, I teach the Visual Arts at the Reading Community Arts Center. I am busy, but I love what I do, so I never feel like it’s really work. My business partner, Bonnie Rack, is a shining example of someone who uses every bit of her energy for others. I am inspired by many who donated their time and talents to bring the Reading Community Arts Center to life, and I want to use my energy to make it thrive. 

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
The physical labor to rehab the building is complete. Now comes the hard part to keep the building running. Can you make a monetary donation to help the Reading Community Arts Center? All donations help with our worthwhile adventure of bringing the Arts to children and adults. Your gift of $500 will be honored with an etched star on the foyer window for all to see. Your gift of $1000 will be memorialized with your name engraved on a star in the Hall of Grace. Larger donations can be honored through naming rights in the building. All fiscal donations are tax-deductible, as we are a registered 501(c)3. Please refer to our website for further information and to keep up with our journey: www.ReadingCommunityArtsCenter.org or on Facebook at Reading Community Arts Center. Thank you. 

Pricing:

  • Rental of the Hall of Grace for Weddings/Receptions is available. Info is on our website.
  • Music lessons are $30 per 30 minutes.
  • Paint N’ Sip Classes are $40 per person.
  • Dance and Fitness Classes for adults are $100 for 8 sessions.
  • Teeny Toes dance and Theater games are $10 per class.

Contact Info:

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