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In 1999, Ark introduced our Creative Arts program. The program consisted of classes in dance and art, which were designed to utilize the creative arts as an education resource and a way to encourage and foster self-expression. Over the next few years, we secured professional instructors to teach a myriad of classes, and added public exhibits and dance performances to our resume’.

In 2002, the Creative Arts Program was expanded to include classes in music, theatre, yoga, and Nia®. With the expansion of the classes and the addition of more students came the need for a bigger space. In 2006, the Ark Memorial Foundation raised $2 million and construction of a Creative Arts Center began. The construction of the specially designed center was complete in 2007.

On Friday, February 2, 2007 the Creative Arts Program at Ark Regional Services was presented with a Governor’s Art Award at a ceremony in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Creative Arts Program was one of four awardees that were honored by Governor Freudenthal and other State leaders.

On December 14, 2009 the Board of Directors for Ark Regional Services renamed the Creative Arts Center the J. Darryl and Terry I. Cooper Center for Creative Arts in honor of Darryl and Terry Cooper. The naming of the building was in recognition of and gratitude for the years Terry worked to provide people with intellectual disabilities every possible opportunity to live, learn, work, and play.

In 2011, Ark began filming the documentary Adapting the Rules, which outlined the successes of students who take classes at the Cooper Center for Creative Arts. Film maker Ali Grossman chronicled the process of our production of The Elephant Man, a play by Bernard Pomerance, as she followed the cast and crew through rehearsals and other aspects of their lives. The film was completed in August 2012 and premiered at the Cooper Center on September 20, 2012.

For most artists, having the opportunity to sell their work is the ultimate goal. Their pieces are the culmination of creativity, and work, talent, and a love for what they do. When someone purchases their creation, it signifies that their work has touched someone else in a meaningful way, and validates the creativity, hard work, talent, and love that were put into creating the piece. The ability to earn a wage is essential to the human experience, and to be able to earn that wage doing what you love is something we all strive to achieve.

On August 30, 2012 the Cooper Center for Creative Arts hosted its Premiere Art Sale and Auction. At the event we sold 34 paintings and works in photography by 18 artists. Sales totaled over $11, 000 with 60% of the profits going to the artists and 40% going to the Cooper Center Endowment.