The ToonSeum is expanding its comics-education programming for kids and teens with The ToonSeum Comics Club.
“We want to teach the next generation of cartoonists how to draw and perfect their craft,” says ToonSeum executive director John Kelly.
To date, ToonSeum’s educational sessions were intermittent and often linked to events, like the Pittsburgh Indie Comics Expo. The new program, planned to start this summer, will run year-round. Workshops will generally be held weekly, in six-week blocks. Classes will be on Saturdays from 9-10:30 a.m., and sign-ups are now open for two sessions.
The first session, for teens aged 13-17, is set for June 24-July 29. This session will cost $200, and will be taught by Juan Fernandez. Spots are available for 10 students. From Aug. 5-26, there will be a four-day session for kids aged 7-12, taught by Sally Ingraham. The 15 spots cost $150 each.
Kelly is confident in his teachers, both of whom have already taught cartooning to kids at the Downtown museum of comics art. He believes the museum is onto something important given today’s climate, in which “there’s been a move away from fine arts in school curriculums.”
The ToonSeum is looking for $20,000 to finance this new project through crowdfunding website Generosity, a subsidiary of Indiegogo. There is no deadline, because unlike most crowdfunding websites, Generosity doesn’t require them.
“Your donations will provide funding for teacher salaries, supplies for the students, instructional materials and equipment for the workshops,” according to the webpage.
ToonSeum is offering rewards for donors depending on how much they give. From $1 to $1,000, donors will receive rewards like posters, signed comics, tours and more. More rewards will be added over time, says Kelly.
The ToonSeum gift shop will offer art supplies applicable to the classes, which Kelly believes will be helpful for parents. “It can be confusing for a parent to walk into an art store,” he said.
Kelly thinks that, because of the success of past teaching sessions, there will be demand for the program.
“Part of the reason we’re doing this is we’ve had people coming in and asking, ‘When is the next session?’” Kelly said.