• Safety Protocol

    The following safety protocols are currently in place for the spring & summer term for In-Person classes on campus:

    • Everyone will be required to bring and wear a face mask through June 30 - (No gaiters, scarves, or bandanas)
    • Effective July 1, masks will be optional.
    • Maintain 6-foot social distancing in hallways and classrooms (one person per table)
    • Class sizes are small to allow for social distancing
    • Rooms will be routinely disinfected
    • Hand sanitizer will be available
    • Gloves will be provided for use with shared tools & supplies
    • Campus buildings are equipped with new filtration systems that are effective against pollen and viruses (including COVID-19)
    • The air conditioning system circulates fresh air into the classrooms several times every 15 minutes

    If you have any questions, the ACE staff is ready to assist you (941) 361-6590.

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    We are looking forward to seeing you at a 6-foot distance as we provide a learning environment that is as safe as possible for you. At the same time, many live online classes are also available. Check out our course catalog for the most up-to-date schedule.

    For your convenience, download and print our Spring & Summer schedule under Course Catalog.

    You can register for in-person or live online classes either by phone or here on the website.

    If you would like to take advantage of registering early for the spring & summer term, become a Patron. Click HERE for details or call (941) 361-6590 and we’ll be happy to sign you up.

    An ACE Patron is someone who wants to show additional support for the ACE program. For as little as $50 per year, an ACE Patron receives priority registration for a year, a free class/lecture each term (chosen by the ACE staff), and other benefits.

    To use a credit from a canceled class, please call the office so a staff member can apply the credit to your order. The credit cannot be applied using the online registration system.

    If you have any questions, the ACE staff is ready to assist you at (941) 361-6590.



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    ACE is excited to be able to offer many classes Live ONLINE via Zoom. To view Online classes, CLICK HERE.

    Take advantage of our alternative ONLINE classrooms using Zoom. This way you can stay home or travel while still enjoying ACE classes – but this time in front of your home computer, tablet, or smartphone.

    Register as you have always done, and before the class starts, the instructor will email a link to you that will enable you to join the class.

    IMPORTANT: You do NOT need to set up a Zoom account or to provide Zoom with any personal information other than your name. For the best experience, we do recommend that you download the Zoom application on your computer, tablet, or smartphone and confirm that your device has a camera and microphone. 

    If you would like to participate in a Zoom practice session to test out your technology, please email us at

    We are always here to answer your questions. Contact us at (941) 361-6590 or


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    Posted by Ace Admin on 5/12/2021

    Pretty soon, your pharmacist might be stuffing paper and pencils into those amber-colored bottles.

    We’re kidding, of course! But art therapy IS big news. It turns out that people who make art have less stress, are able to focus more deeply, have more emotional resilience, and feel more hopeful about their future than people who do not make art. Some recent studies back up those statements.

    One of the studies involved a small group of recently retired seniors in Germany in 2014. Half of them participated in hands-on art workshop twice a week for ten weeks. The other half took an art appreciation course as a control. Both groups were tested for emotional resilience using fMRI technology both before and after the program.

    The researchers found a significant improvement in psychological resilience and “functional connectivity” (the way that parts of your brain talk to each other) in the art-making group, but not in the control group. One of the conclusions of the study was that making art might “delay or even negate age-related decline of certain brain functions,” according to Katherine Brooks, who reported on the story for The Huffington Post.

    Many artists do some of their best work in the last third of their lives. For instance, Picasso kept on breaking new ground with his artwork until his death at 91. And Henri Matisse, when he became bedridden in his later years and thus unable to paint, asked for colored paper and scissors and began to create the paper collages that turned out to be some of his most creative and lyrical artworks. He died at 84. Claude Monet, the famous Impressionist, lived to 86, and painted even through failing eyesight due to cataracts.

    Many researchers have argued that art is a basic human need. The drawings in dark caves in southern France, made with red clay and chalk tens of thousands of years ago by firelight, show how strong the urge to create is. Anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake wrote, in her book Homo Aestheticus, that even nomadic people, who carry few possessions, take the time to make decorations and adornments for their surroundings.

    Creativity is important for many aspects of health and human relationships. Girija Kaimal, a professor at Drexel University and an art therapy researcher, says, "Anything that engages your creative mind—the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate—is good for you." She works with victims of traumatic brain injury, among others.


    1. Art helps us imagine a hopeful future. The more you draw, paint, doodle, sculpt, or collage, the more you see something emerging that wasn’t there before, and the more likely you are to see it through to completion. We unconsciously extrapolate from what we’re doing with our hands to what’s happening in life. In the most basic terms, imagination is tied to possibility, and that means survival.
    2. Art activates the brain’s reward center. Research reported in 2017 in the journal “Arts in Psychotherapy” showed that there was increased blood flow to the pleasure center of the brain when participants were doodling, coloring, or free drawing. It didn’t matter whether the participants had prior art training. Conclusion: Art makes us happy—and our brain shows it!
    3. Art reduces stress. Obvious, right?! But research backs up this claim as well. Researchers measured the levels of cortisol in the blood of 39 healthy adults after 45 minutes of making art with an art therapist and found that it dropped significantly. Cortisol is one of the hormones that help the body respond to stress. There were no differences in cortisol levels between those who self-identified as experienced artists and beginners.
    4. Art nudges you toward better focus, or “flow.” Anything that improves concentration is good for you—we knew that—and art falls into that category. But art can go one better, because art-making pushes you over the edge into that wonderful state of mind called “flow,” where you are in the groove, all systems go, clear and calm, following a river of creative juices that seems to go on forever. If you are in the habit of making art now, you have probably experienced this intensely pleasurable state of super-creativity and laser focus.


    The answer is – whatever you like! If you have never picked up a pencil, brush, or crayon before, take a beginning art class of some kind and experiment with all your senses open to what might appeal to you. Or perhaps music, performance, dance, or writing will be the art form that is the one for you.  

    Researchers in one study found that coloring inside a shape, such as a pre-drawn mandala, was more helpful than coloring randomly on a blank piece of paper. Other researchers have found that modeling clay was very beneficial for reducing anxiety and stress because it involved more of the senses.

    But any type of creation is helpful in some way. The point is, try something. If it’s not your cup of tea, try something else!


    Gharib, Malaka, “Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain,”, Jan.11, 2020

    Brooks, Katherine, “Study Says Making Art Is Good for Your Brain, and We Say You Should Listen,”, updated Dec. 6, 2017

    Martin, Brittany Harker, “Cutting-Edge Research Shows That Making Art Benefits the Brain,”, June 14, 2020


    Written by Patricia Rockwood, Instructor and Staff Writer, Adult & Community Enrichment (ACE).

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