Tyler Barton joins PCA&D as Continuing Ed is reimagined, expanded into the Center for Creative Exploration

As Pennsylvania College of Art & Design expands and redefines its community enrichment courses, we have formed our first institutional center:  the Center for Creative Exploration (CCE). Headed by Natalie Lascek, former Director of Continuing Education, the CCE will encompass classes that not only offer enrichment opportunities to the greater Lancaster community, but also dovetail with certificate programs, academic minors, and the College’s BFA-degree curriculum.

Coordinating all of these programs is Tyler Barton, a new arrival to PCA&D, seasoned educator, accomplished author, and co-founder of Fear No Lit. Former Education Services Manager at the North Museum in Lancaster, Barton also has served as a Program Coordinator for the Native American Literature Symposium, Museum Educator for the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, and as a Grants & Sponsorships Assistant at Minnesota State University.

The new, wide-ranging position of Program Coordinator also allows Barton to share his expertise in envisioning and teaching writing programs. A recent Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Stream Grant Recipient, Barton says he’ll be “working to bring more creative writing opportunities for our students” at the community workshop, adult enrichment, and pre-college levels.

His aims, in brief: “I want to ensure that all of our students feel welcomed and excited about their classes, and that they have an experience that makes them want to come back to take another class.”

Find out more about Barton’s work, and his goals for the College’s re-imagined programming and outreach:

What are your first few priorities for the Center for Creative Exploration?

TB: I want to make sure our students and community members feel confident about taking online classes. I also want to help re-envision how our youth programs will run this summer, within the limitations of social distancing. Beyond that, I’m excited to create opportunities for more creative writing classes. Our current Spring offering in creative writing (“Character & Conflict” taught by Michele Lombardo) has been getting a great response in terms of registrations, so I hope to keep that momentum moving.

Click here to learn more about the Summer 2020 Term at PCA&D, including courses through the Center for Creative Exploration.

As a newcomer to PCA&D, what do you see as the College’s “hidden talents?” What do we have to offer the community that you hope to elevate?

TB: I don’t know if it’s hidden, but PCA&D seems to me a very nimble institution. I think this Spring’s successful transition into online learning has proven that. This flexibility is certainly at the heart of the Center for Creative Exploration, where we have the freedom to offer classes that respond to our community’s needs and interests. We’re uniquely positioned to try brand-new classes, to explore up-and-coming arts niches, and to recruit instructors from all over the creative and professional landscape. This is something our director, Natalie Lascek, made clear to me from the get-go, that the Center for Creative Exploration mirrors the fluidity of art at large: always changing, adapting, and experimenting.

What role do you see the College — specifically, your department — being able to play in Lancaster’s arts community at large? 

TB: I think the CCE does this well already, but it’s something I want to continue, which is to keep an ear to the ground in Lancaster’s creative community so that we can always be working with our innovative local artists to provide the kinds of classes that people need, want, and maybe never knew they were looking for. I try to keep in contact with the local arts community in as many ways as I can, and I’m excited to expand that as I meet new teachers and students through the CCE.

What would a dream project be for you?

TB: I’ve always wanted to rent billboard space and then open up submissions of 10-word poems to people in the community, then publish (on the billboards) a series of poems over a three-month period. Haha. A dream project here in CCE would be to start offering classes in sound design, podcasting, and electronic music production. I’m a (very) amatuer audio engineer myself, so these are the kinds of classes I would love to take. I think there is a lot of public interest in these fields right now. I also would love to have classes that offer perspectives and workshops on performance art, large-scale installations, and public art projects.

What fuels your own creativity?

TB: Nothing gives me more energy as an artist or as a community arts advocate than seeing the work of peers. Going to poetry readings, art openings, performances, and really any live creative event — I always have so many ideas when I’m present in those spaces and communicating with other creators. That’s what I’m missing the most right now (during the COVID-19 restrictions). But I’m open to finding ways to tap into that human connection online, for the time being.