Philly Art Center fills a need through arts programs

ANDREW THAYER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jill Markovitz is the founder and director of Philly Art Center, which offers classes at two locations.
ANDREW THAYER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jill Markovitz is the founder and director of Philly Art Center, which offers classes at two locations.
Posted: July 29, 2014

J  ILL MARKOVITZ, 40, of Fairmount, is founder and director of Philly Art Center, with locations in Queen Village and Fairmount. The centers hold art classes, after-school programs and summer camps for kids as young as 18 months, as well as workshops for adults.

 Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the biz?

A: My background is art education, and it was always my dream to have an arts center. We just celebrated 10 years in Fairmount, and [Queen Village] opened in 2011. I'd been teaching art for 20 years prior to this.

Q: Start-up money?

A: I was teaching full time when we opened Fairmount in a 400-square-foot space. I put $10,000 on my credit card and paid the rent from my teacher's salary. After three years, we used some savings, took on a new space and longer lease. Queen Village was a much bigger project.

Q: What's the biz do?

A: We offer arts programming for all ages in open studios. We've got 13 to 25 employees - 15 full-time - and all our teachers have college degrees in art or art education, and many have master's degrees. We have after-school programs, vacation day camps, adult evening and Saturday classes, music classes and weekend birthday parties.

Q: Cost of services?

A: They're affordable and competitive with other area art classes, and many include materials. Our parent-child classes, where we meet for an hour per day, are $140 for a six-week session. Our popular after-school program starts at $22 per day, five days a week, and we have fall, winter and spring terms, 14 weeks each, or $1,540.

Q: How's the after-school programming work?

A: We pick up from nearby schools at 3 p.m. and go to a park and play, then come back for homework, snack and arts classes. Kids are in the studio from 4:30 to 6 p.m. We have a curriculum developer who writes programs, so it's a program where they draw, paint, print and sculpt, individually or in groups.

Q: How many students?

A: On a given day, 100 people move through our centers.

Q: Value proposition?

A: We have a dynamic arts curriculum that teaches kids to think outside the box. Kids aren't getting art instruction in [many public] schools and they need to work with their hands.

Q: Got an example?

A: Our summer fashion camp is incredible. Girls are learning how to sew who've never sewn. The program is for tweens who'll leave here with a dress, pillow and headband, and a life skill.

Q: Your customers?

A: The adults are professionals from all over the region, 20s to 30s. The after-school programs pull more from nearby neighborhoods.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman


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