With New Location, New Leader, CREATE Expanding Its Programs

Linda Marson in her office at CREATE Arts Center. Photo by Mike Diegel.

With a new location and a new executive director in Linda Marson, CREATE Arts Center is expanding its programming and community outreach.

Marson started her job about eight weeks ago and new programs are beginning to happen.

“For the first time, we’re offering adult workshops all through the fall,” Marson said. “We’re super-excited about that.”

Marson began her career at WUSA9 as a news assignment editor, worked on the Hill in both the House and the Senate as a communications director and then running political campaigns, including working for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Maryland’s former Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

She later joined the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation as national communications director, worked as a consultant while raising children, and managed a global public relations and marketing agency.

With a Marson in place at the center’s new home at 914 Silver Spring Ave., the group also is working on forming more partnerships, reaching out to adults, kids, seniors, the Silver Spring area and Takoma Park, talking about the role CREATE plays in the community

“One thing this new, large space gives us is capacity to grow what we’ve already been doing,” Marson said. “We not only have [a new] room for individual and small-group [art therapy], but we can go out into the classrooms for those groups. That was not something that we had before. Now we can run art therapy and workshops at the same time, and have a nice, respectful space for people to heal and work.”

The group is also creating a gallery in a street-facing room and expanding activities out onto the building’s patio.

“We’ve already offered it to a number of our neighbors,” she said.

Referring to the apartments going up across Silver Spring Avenue, Marson said, “When they get up and running, we want to offer a meet-your-neighbor get together here,” demonstrating what they have to offer residents and their children.”

Another area that she’d like to expand is the smARTkids program. As described on CREATE’s website, smARTkids “is a free after-school art program that aims to positively impact the learning abilities and success of at-risk students by using visual art techniques and art therapy principles. We focus on increasing students’ positive social skills, problem solving and conflict resolution abilities, while enhancing their self-confidence, empathy, and resilience.”

The program has been offered in Woodlin, Arcola, Highland and Takoma Park elementary schools. The organization also will begin serving East Silver Spring this year, after being approached by the school’s new principal, Michael Burd.

Marson noted that CREATE works with principals and counselors who identify the students they feel could be helped by the program.

“It’s a benefit and it truly works,” she said.

“In my mind, and the team’s mind, we should be in every school,” Marson said. “Every school needs this smARTkids program, a safe place where kids can go and talk through and work through some of [their] issues.”

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