Sharing the Joy of Art through Active Participation

Kim Blakesley
Cedar Valley Art and Wine
Cedar Falls, IA
Cedar Valley Art and Wine offers a safe and encouraging learning environment where patrons enjoy an entertaining, unique and relaxing 3-hour painting event. Our unique philosophy of teaching provides an avenue for all to express their inner artist. Ages four and up are welcome.
The birth of Cedar Valley Art and Wine working painting studio was and still is a culmination of my love for the arts, experience as an educator and background in business. The business model used is not a typical model. I chose to model the painting studio after a public school system art classroom along. The budget is also modeled after a public school systems, that simply means spend as little as you can to give the "students" the most for the money. The set-up within the studio provides easy access to all painting and multi-media supplies patrons need to complete their paintings.

Our philosophy, "Art has No Wrong Answer," has resonated through the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas. Patrons' are exploring their creative side through the guiding hands of our artists. Step-by-step instructs walk patrons through the selected painting for the time slot from start to finish. Help is always there and never with a condescending tone or look. Patrons are put to ease through the use of calm tones, encouraging words and excellent instructions.

Our philosophy is one unique aspect of Cedar Valley Art and Wine. The other is the ability of all patrons to bring their own wine, beer or non-alcoholic beverage to their painting event. This keeps their cost down and takes the liability of alcohol into their own hands. No liquor license is required.

Painting events are offered at five different price points, $10, $25, $35, $40 and $45. The price of the event is reflected in the different size canvases. Types of events offered include public and private events. Public events include Kid's paints, Couple's Paint, Date Night, Free-style and others. Private events include but are not limited to birthday parties, bachelorette parties, retirement parties, baby and bridal showers, staff development, team building and fundraising. A portion of the proceeds from a fundraising event is given directly to the coordinator.

Cedar Valley Art and Wine is considered a part of the entertainment industry. The hands-on portion of the business also places us in the education field. We began with five events per week and have expanded to our current event listing to 14 per week. Our move from State Street to Main Street, along with the expansion within our Main Street location gives us the opportunity to have 21 events per week. We are still working towards that goal.

Another avenue of income is traveling to business or school locations. The minimum attendees to travel to another location is 15 with the maximum set at 100. We have traveled to such locations as Fox Ridge Winery (42 attendees), St. Mary's Catholic Church( 64 attendees), Wartburg College (100 seats for student entertainment), East High School (staff development of 90 educators), and numerous churches throughout the Cedar Valley.

Our first studio sat 30 people. We outgrew the location in less than six months and expanded to a second area within the same building. Six months later, we were scrambling to find a location to open a third studio area. We found this building on Main Street but it was in dire need of remodeling. The first two areas were up and running by September of 2015 with the third opening in November. The maximum number of attendees we may now seat is 89. We had our first event in the third studio on November 14th. Since that time, we use the studio a minimum of once per week.

I am the owner and the only full-time employee. I managed all aspects of the business for the first four months and hired in my first contract laborer. Four months later we added three more. Just recently, we lost one artist and hired three in to take her place. We currently have six part-time artists. All artists work on a contractual basis. Each individual has artistic talent and the ability to teach patrons how to complete each painting with easy-to-follow instructions.

We have no direct competition in the Cedar Valley and surrounding areas. We consider a fifty mile radius of the Cedar Valley area as our market size.
Cedar Valley Art and Wine is applying for this grant specifically to expand our painting/multi-media supplies into the third studio, replace broken and loose easels, and replace worn out paint brushes. We are also wanting to have professional brochures designed and printed for disbursement at the Cedar Falls Tourism Center, Business Expo's and at our business location.

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