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Cash crunch hits arts charity

An arts education charity faces cutting programmes and laying off staff unless it can raise $300,000 by the end of January.Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation, which has seen its funding and donations slashed during the economic crisis, yesterday called for the public to ensure it can keep going.Founder Fiona Rodriguez-Roberts told The Royal Gazette the initiative is vital to helping children develop skills which can also offset the Island's social problems.She said even though many families are feeling the strain of the downturn, Kaleidoscope deserves support because of the assistance it gives children, particularly those who can't normally access such facilities.“In our current economic downturn many of our sources of funding have been cut significantly or withdrawn completely,” Mrs Rodriguez-Roberts told this newspaper.“What we don't want is to cut programmes, turn children away, lay off staff, close our doors.“When we took over the building we were not in a recession. We were given a loan that enabled us to renovate the building and substantial renovations were needed.“Paying back the loan along with rent, due to go up in 2011, hikes our overhead up and in these current times is crippling.“Add on top of that ongoing maintenance on an old building, land tax, all this before we even get to teachers' salaries and art supplies.”She said the arts are increasingly seen as an essential part of developing children's intellectual capabilities and their sense of community.“Through art, children are able to make sense of their world and their role in it,” she said.“By providing a visual arts education we ensure that children are engaged in activities that motivate them, excite them and helps them to make better choices for their lives now and in the future.”The charity, which has seven staff, was set up four years ago in the old Elliot School, Devonshire, and offers classes to toddlers through to adults.A Creative Minds programme aimed at children from poor backgrounds saw 130 children get access to art education they wouldn't normally have, according to Mrs Rodriguez-Roberts.Meanwhile children from Victor Scott, Paget Primary and Gilbert Institute benefit from an Art and Me course; and children as young as 18 months take part in a Hands on Art project. Mrs Rodriguez-Roberts said of Hands on Art: “This programme is especially important to me as I believe reaching a child before crisis is one way to counter our Island's social issues.”She said $300,000 would ensure all programmes continue until the end of the school year and help pay for teachers, staff, supplies, rent and electricity.People are encouraged to make a Christmas donation of $25 or more to the Bank of Butterfield account number 20006060807509100. “If everyone reading this article gave something, $25, $50, $100, whatever KAF supporters can afford, the end result would be fantastic and we would get to our goal of $300,000 in no time at all,” she said.“If everyone reading did give a donation, we would reach our goal before Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be!”Call Kaleidoscope on 542-9000 to make a donation.l Are you a charity? Are you feeling the effects of the recession? Is the amount of money you receive in donations down? E--mail news[AT]royalgazette.bm with the details.