Artist Rhonda Payne said she is looking forward to returning to Haliburton this summer to both teach and learn art.

The Toronto-based painter missed summer courses at the Haliburton School of Arts + Design last year after 14 years of attending. Fleming College suspended programs in 2020 due to the pandemic, but one year later, the college is offering more than 80 courses and workshops again starting June 28 until Aug. 13.

“It’s a real thrill,” Payne said. “We’ve all really missed it. I missed it terribly.”

The courses each last about one week, with daylong workshops also on offer. Programming includes a wide range of artistic fields, including drawing, blacksmithing, jewellery, pottery, photography and more.

The course offerings are about 25-50 per cent fewer than usual, according to vice president of academic experience Linda Poirier. She said this is due to protocols and the college opting not to use the space at local grade schools, as it would in a typical year.

Nonetheless, Poirier said Fleming is eager to offer summer lessons again and has had experience delivering lessons safely throughout the pandemic.

“It actually feels fantastic,” she said.

“The utmost importance to Fleming is that everybody is safe. We’re excited to be able to once again open our doors.”

Protocols include safe work plans for every space at the facility, with personal protective equipment and limits on the number of people. Those entering the facility will also be pre-screened and only registered students and staff will be allowed to enter.

Payne said she does not have safety concerns, adding classes are separate. However, she said she might miss the opportunity to walk around and see what others are working on.

But Poirier said there will be common areas to allow for some interactions, though with masks required.

“We’re trying to create space that can be casual space for our students,” she said.

“We also want to feel welcoming to all of the students, so they’re relaxed and having the experience they hope to be having.”

Payne said although artists have been able to do online interactions and lessons throughout the pandemic, it is not the same as doing it in person.

“This is an opportunity to really immerse yourself in an environment that’s creative, that builds the creative in you,” Payne said. “You can just expand your horizons.”

Registration information is available by contacting askus@hsad.ca.

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