Marion Community School of the Arts (CSA) was incorporated in 1995 and began providing six classes of art instruction in the basement of the St. John Lutheran Church in Marion, IN. After seeing tremendous growth, and several location changes, CSA acquired a large downtown building on the courthouse square in Marion.
CSA has grown to serve students from Grant, Wabash, Blackford, Delaware, Madison, Howard, Hamilton, Johnson, and Allen Counties, and offers over 100 classes, a pre-professional theatre company, a variety of private music lessons, the CSA Arts Academy — a partnership with Marion Community Schools, and the Tuition Scholarship Program — a program for students needing financial assistance.
Enrichment opportunities include original and Broadway productions, community art partnerships, and the Student Performance Series — public, private, and charter school performances. Most recently, in 2021, CSA launched an After School Arts Enrichment program for Marion Community Schools students in grades 1 – 4 to provide after-school care and arts education. Additionally, in August of 2021, CSA acquired the Marion Civic Theatre building and programming, and launched CSA’s Civic Theatre, continuing the legacy of community-driven theatre in Grant County.
Katie Perez has been the Executive Director of the organization since 2014, co-leading with Artistic Director, Shelly Inskeep.
Perez described the most rewarding part of doing business in Marion as having the opportunity to “provide high quality productions that are at the level of what would be expected in much bigger cities.” She also said, “Being able to operate in Marion has allowed CSA to expose the arts in so many ways to the community without having to travel. In fact, many have traveled from those big cities to participate in classes. Just being able to make the arts available to Grant County is a reward, and Marion and Grant County deserve these types of opportunities.” Perez said dream for the future of the organization is to continue to expand the impact on the lives of Marion and Grant County residents through arts education and enrichment opportunities. “The arts are vital in the improvement of quality of life, and CSA is a treasure that even after all these years, many do not realize exists.”
Gloria Billingsley is a Theatre Faculty member and the After School Arts Enrichment Program Leader. She said that the most rewarding part of doing business in Marion is the opportunity to work with students from all elementary Marion community schools through the After School Arts Enrichment program. “We have had students come from all different families and backgrounds to work on plays, dances, and art together. It has been a wonderful opportunity for the kids to engage in their creativity and to meet students from other schools.” Her dream for the future of the organization, more specifically the After School program she leads, is for more community students to get involved and to have the opportunity to learn more about the arts.
Registration for the CSA Summer Camps is now open and offers a new free theatre camp for kids 6 – 12. They will be presenting Disney’s Aristocats Kids at the CSA on July 16th and 17th. The 6 – 12 kids camp registration is now full, but CSA is offering a waitlist option for potential future openings. Also, fall classes at CSA begin registering on July 15th.
Katie Morgan Perez, Executive Director
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Gloria Billingsley, Theatre Faculty, After School Arts Enrichment Program Leader
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Grant County Economic Growth Council