Community Outreach

The mission of the Yocum Institute for Arts Education is to connect and enrich our community through arts education, creative performance, and innovative programs. Established in 1934 by Dr. Chester Wittell, the Wyomissing Institute of Fine Arts as it was originally called opened its doors to ensure that people living in West Reading and Wyomissing would have the same opportunities to experience excellence in arts instruction as people in the city. More than 80 years later, the Yocum Institute for Arts Education is the home to the Yocum Gallery, Primary Stages Productions, Art Goes to School, the Berks Art Alliance, and Neighborhood Bridges©, a critical literacy program created by the Children’s Theatre Company.

The Institute, as it is still affectionately called, remains a strong resource for education in and through the arts as it continues to offer on-site private and class instruction in all art disciplines. In keeping with the mission and long-term strategic plan of delivering relevant arts programming beyond the physical walls of the building, “The Institute” has developed an extensive outreach program. Through partnerships with schools, colleges, universities, libraries, recreation centers, and other nonprofit organizations in Berks County, Institute programs impact over 20,000 people annually – truly helping to realize our vision of “making the arts make a difference.”

Please contact Beverly Houck at 610-376-1576 ext. 205 with any questions.

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Community Partners

ART GOES TO SCHOOL: This unique nationwide program pairs volunteers who love the visual arts with schools that want to provide their students with in-depth experiences. Our volunteers make fine art accessible to elementary school students; we bring to the children information in an impartial, instructive, informal presentation; we encourage the pupils to “look, listen, and feel” art.

Art plays an important role in developing a child’s imagination and in appreciating the works of a wide cross-section of peoples and cultures. We use reproductions that run the gamut from cave to modern art. We include European, American, African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and African works in our portfolios. The children learn about pieces from varied communities around the world. We use over 900 different prints by over 300 different artists in our presentations.

For more information, click HERE.

BERKS ART ALLIANCE: The Berks Art Alliance is a fellowship of artists, both professional and amateur, interested in creating and fostering an atmosphere of stimulation and encouragement to support the visual arts within the Alliance and extending out into the community at large.

The Alliance came into being November 1941 under its original name of the Art Haven Guild of Berks County and evolved into the Alliance in 1947. Artists had banded together in Berks well before 1941, but it was not until this organization was created that a group of its kind succeeded in operating continuously to the present time.

Aside from activities aimed at their personal improvement, Alliance members have reached out into the community from time to time to encourage school children through special art projects and to foster art consciousness with exhibits, demonstrations, and participation in community events.

For more information, click HERE.