Arts Education at DAC

Donor-Now-Button-LRGDAC education programs provide dynamic opportunities for children, youth and adults to explore the visual and performing arts within a cooperative and inspiring learning environment. 

DAC programs seek to advance quality arts education, raise awareness of the value of arts education, and deepen and enrich the vitality of our community by cultivating creativity in learners of all ages and abilities.

In addition to the array of camps and workshops held in our light-filled Education Studio, DAC offers arts enrichment through its After School Art program, a 20+ year partnership with Durango District 9R elementary schools.  In addition to After School Art, DAC’s Docents and Creativity Festivity programs support a Tier 1 Partnership with Durango School District 9R.  Our youth education programs curriculums correlate with local, state and national education standards in Colorado and New Mexico. 

View our Policies & Procedures page here.

To learn more about DAC’s visual art education programs, including summer and winter break camps, After School Art, adult workshops and studio rental opportunities, contact:

To learn more about DAC’s youth theatre program or adult performing art workshops contact:

Need-Based Tuition Assistance

Through the support of generous community members, local foundations and corporate sponsors, DAC provides need-based tuition assistance to an estimated 13% of registrants annually.  Access scholarship forms below.

The Durango Arts Center reserves the right to cancel any class or workshop if it does not meet minimum enrollment. For a student to cancel a class or workshop and receive a refund, contact the Durango Arts Center 10 days before start of class or workshop. If the 10 day notice is given, the DAC will refund your payment less a 15% registration fee based on the tuition. NO REFUNDS will be issued for cancellations made within 10 days of the start of the class or workshop. 

If you register for a class or workshop within the 10 day period, you will receive no refund for cancellation.  For more information on youth or adult arts education, please contact Education Director, Deena Carney / (970) 259-2606, Ext. 15.

After School Art

Among the Durango Arts Center’s (DAC) most impactful arts education opportunities is the elementary arts enrichment program – After School Art – provided in each of the 9-R elementary schools, throughout the academic year.  As the only program of its kind currently serving our community, annually DAC enrolls 751+ children in sessions to explore creative self-expression through a variety of visual art mediums including painting, drawing, ceramics, weaving and sculpture.  Repeated research illustrates the link between arts education and what we want for our children and expect from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.  Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, and verbal skills.  Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, self-esteem, and teamwork.

The After School Art program is held weekly (one-hour classes) at each of the elementary schools, the monthly sessions enroll 12 students to ensure personalized attention.  Sessions are themed (such as art around the world, architecture, folk art, impressionism), with age-appropriate art/artist history lessons and a fine art project.  All art supplies are provided by DAC and classes are led by teaching artists with curriculum aligned with district and State of Colorado standards.

To provides arts access to every child who desires to participate, the Durango Arts Center assumes full responsibility in disbursing need-based scholarship support, made possible with generous sponsorship of the Martin Family Fund, Durango Education Foundation, Durango Friends of the Arts and the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado.

DAC Youth Theatre

The DAC Youth Theatre program provides a unique opportunity for children and youth to unleash their creativity and bring their imagination to life through movement, speech, storytelling and character development.

Girls’ Opportunities through Arts and Leadership

Since 2002, the Girls’ Opportunities through Art and Leadership (GOAL) program has provided middle school girls with unique opportunities for skill-building and problem-solving in the areas of identity, creativity, and self-esteem. With an emphasis on art making, GOAL is led by local female artistic role models who engage the students in visual and performing arts experiences. While developing their artistic skills, students learn to use the resources within themselves and in their environment to create a vision for their present and future and to work towards their goals and dreams.

Over the course of the camp, GOAL girls spend their time focusing on the visual arts in the areas of painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography, printmaking and collage with an added exploration each day on creative writing, poetry, movement and performance.

GOAL serves 12 students per session, and is offered three times per year including a two week summer camp, a fall Saturday workshops and a winter camp.

  • GOAL is proud to promote overall community responsibility of young female development.
  • GOAL has served approximately 350 young women since inception and will celebrate 15 years on June 9, 2017.
  • GOAL scholarship requests average 25% of total registrants each year, therefore community support is paramount in DAC’s continued success of broad outreach to girls of all economic circumstances.

Participants of the GOAL program are nominated by peers, teachers, parents and community members.  For more information, or to contribute to a GOAL scholarship, please contact Deena Carney, Visual Arts Education Director at or (970) 259-2606, Ext 15.


BoysART (BART) was established in 2015 as a companion to the popular G.O.A.L. program for art-loving boys going into or currently enrolled in Middle School (Ages 12-15).  BART features multiple creative sessions taught by local artists. In summer 2016, local artist Dan Groth led the camp with collage and assemblage, with Michael Darmody, instructor at San Juan College, teaching design and building of bristol board castles; and Ed Bolster led perspective drawing.

Participants of the BART program are invited through a nomination process by peers, teachers, parents and community members.  For more information please contact Deena Carney, Visual Arts Education Director at or (970) 259-2606, Ext 15.

BART is supported by:

Visual Art Workshops

2015Sponsor7_NewFaceAdult classes and workshops have been offered at DAC continually since we opened the education studio in 2010.  Exercise your inner artist at DAC with our beginning and master art workshops of a variety of mediums such as drawing, painting, assemblage/collage, ceramics/hand-building, printmaking, paper-making, bookmaking and other less traditional techniques like stitching, enameling and encaustics.  Learn more here.

Performing Art Workshops

Whether you are a seasoned actor or a beginner, you will enjoy what performing arts can 2015Sponsor7_NewFaceoffer!

DAC’s adult performing art workshops offer a platform to explore not only theatre skills, but personal and professional development through theory, method, movement and expression.  Course themes include musical theatre dance, improvisation, storytelling and acting.  Learn more here.

Art History Lecture Series


February 16, 23, March 2, 9, 23 & 28, 2017
Thursdays, 4-5:30pm in the Theater
Free for the public to enjoy

Freelance journalist and author Judith Reynolds will present her annual art history lecture series, together with humanities scholar Katherine Burgess.  ART IN CONTEXT will begin with an introduction on February 16, and then explore in five more sessions the Golden Age of Greece, the Roman Legacy, Renaissance Rebirth, Baroque Expansion and the Modern Era.  Burgess will provide the overarching historical and political context, Reynolds will include local art and architecture as part of the promise of “context.”  The series is free and open to the public, the one-hour lecture will be followed by a 30-minute discussion.

Creativity Festivity

Creativity Festivity is our community’s annual celebration of art and artists in our local schools, coordinated by DAC for over 20 years.  Throughout the two week celebration each spring, DAC hosts several events and opportunities for local youth to share their work with the greater arts community in Durango.

Activities during Creativity Festivity include an exhibit featuring work of k-12th grade students in the Barbara Conrad Gallery, writing contest for 4th and 5th grades and the Durango High School’s annual poetry slam held in the theater.  Learn more here.

In 2015, DAC received the “Healthy Seal of Approval” from the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition for our 2015 Creativity Festivity gallery reception and high school poetry slam, signifying that these events were free to attend, fun, engaging and without alcohol. The Coalition is a facet of San Juan Basin Health Department and has served La Plata County for over 20 years in promoting developmental assets and healthy norms for families and young adults. Learn more about the Coalition’s work here.

DAC Docents

The DAC’s Docents Program allows volunteers to share their passion of the arts with the community through a variety of programs all offered free of charge, Community Foundationincluding school tours of DAC galleries, and presentations in area classrooms, senior and community centers.  Docents develop a love of experiencing art and artists in area youth to last throughout a lifetime. Learn more here.

One of the Docents’ signature programs is Creative Minds – a collaborative educational offering for adult clients of Community Connections.  Recognizing the arts as a universal language, the arts fulfill the basic human need for self-expression. Beyond arts and crafts, the Creative Minds program meets the unmet needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Led by a Durango Arts Center teaching artist and DAC docents, the Creative Minds program is offered twice at month in the Barbara Conrad Gallery. Clients are provided with a tour of the Gallery exhibit followed by a hands-on art lesson, exploring self-expression through various art mediums. At the conclusion of each session, the clients are encouraged to share their work in a salon style display, to the delight of their peers.

Creative Minds expands the impact of the Durango Arts Center’s mission to provide individuals from Durango and surrounding communities with opportunities to create, to promote and to participate in diverse art experiences. At the same time, the program honors the mission of Community Connections, to create opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead healthy and fulfilling lives in their community.