What Is Community Education?

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Watkins’ Community Education Department offers non-credit classes, workshops and camps in art, design, film, and creative writing for people of all ages, skill-levels, and backgrounds.  The mission of the CE program is to provide a distinctive education that will empower youth, teens and adults to embrace their artistic abilities and give them the tools to pursue a life of creativity. Whether you’re a “first-time artist” interested in trying something new or a professional looking to go deeper in your medium, we look forward to making art with you at Watkins — your place to create!

Classes are taught by talented practicing artists who help students gain an understanding of their chosen medium. Emphasis is placed on both the finished product and the process of thinking, designing, communicating and creating. Young Artists are introduced to art fundamentals through drawing, painting, working with clay and other techniques. Teens learn about past and present artists while expanding upon their artistic skills. Adults have the opportunity to explore areas of specific interest, allowing their creative voice to be heard.

Explore the Watkins CE Fall 2017 Catalog



Maggie Fansher, Director
Before Watkins, Maggie received her MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship from the Massey School of Business at Belmont University, defying the idea that ‘artists can’t do math.’ But before all the spreadsheets and financial calculations, she ran her own painting studio at Marathon Village after graduating with a BA in studio art and art history from Centre College. A creative at heart, she has worked for many of the arts organizations in town, from managing the summer programs at Cheekwood to grant writing and show installation with Seed Space.

Sydney Grimes, Coordinator
After graduating from Belmont University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Art in Art History, Sydney worked at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts as their summer camp manager. Sydney is a Nashville native and understands the growing arts community in Nashville.


Watkins’ CE department employs student assistants and many professional teaching artists. More information on our teaching artists can be found on this page under the “Teaching Artists” tab.

Watkins History

In 1885, the State of Tennessee received a special gift that would forever change education and the arts in Nashville: $100,000 and a parcel of land at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Church Street, Samuel Watkins, an orphan who later built a fortune in the masonry business, designated this gift in his will to build a school that would strengthen the city. The resulting school, Watkins Institute, evolved into one of the finest community-oriented education facilities in the region. For 130 years, Watkins’ role has been flexible, addressing the unmet educational needs of Nashville.

Watkins in 1920sToday, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is an independent institution dedicated to providing education in the visual arts. It is held in trust by the state of Tennessee and is privately supported. In keeping with the vision of its founder, Samuel Watkins, the College believes in providing its students with a solid, practical education that prepares them for careers in the arts. It is an institution that values service to the community and seeks to be a resource for the community. In this role, Watkins offers non-degree arts education in addition to the college curriculum.