Our History

For 40 years, the Center for Art & Education has been providing outstanding art educational programming to area artists, children, and seniors.



We partner with all six of the Van Buren Elementary Schools allowing visiting artists to integrate art into the classroom curriculum. Seniors benefit from engaging art activities provided by local artists. This just brushes the surface of what the Art Center provides.

Established as the Crawford County Art Center in 1976, the organization began operations from a small room in the city-owned Van Buren Community Center. The first art exhibitions, workshops and “paint-outs” were held in whatever space was available.

In 1979 the art center purchased a Turn-of-the-Century home. This became the first Crawford County Art Center. In 1984 the Crawford County Art Center acquired the historic St. Michael’s Catholic Church, circa 1912.

The first years of operations were met with many challenges. This did not stop the first visionaries, who organized bean and corn bread suppers, bingo parties and events, gave their green stamps to purchase the materials needed to make art a part of their community.

This pioneering spirit continues today. The Center's budget has increased ten-fold. Most importantly, the Center's programs have increased in number and expanded in diversity. We are currently serving over 5,000 individuals of all ages.

A lot has changed since the organization was established thirty-five years ago, including its newly adopted and more inclusive name, Center For Art & Education. Yet, its earlier hope and mission, which is ever being realized, is that every citizen can experience art.

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