Owners: Kate Meade and Hazel Seiden
When did you open Alameda Arts? This January.
What motivated you to start a business together? Kate: About 8 or 9 years ago, we moved in across from each other. Our kids are about one year apart in age. Way before we even came up the idea for , we would be outside playing with chalk and bubbles and such. Both of us worked odd hours in the restaurant industry. We started talking about what changes we wanted to make in order to be more available to our kids. I was working really long hours and only seeing my kids for a short amount of time and that wasn’t good. We asked ourselves, what needs are out there and what are our skill sets?
At a PTA meeting, there were complaints from some parents about how they couldn’t put their kids in AEF  classes because there wasn’t any after-care. Also, there was no place for kindergartners to go. I approached Katherine Barr, the principal of , and said, “Here’s what we want to do” and she said, “Great!” Then I went to the district office and talked to [Director of Student Services] Kirsten Zazo and she said, “Great!”
What classes do you offer? Kate: This year, we are offering three courses through AEF. Monday through Friday, we have a kindergarten class, which meets right after kindergarten dismissal. It goes until the older kids get out. Our class for first through fifth graders runs from 3 to 5 p.m., then the third class runs from 5 to 6 p.m.
Hazel: There’s always a project of the day. K-5 is a big age range so the kids always have the option to do something else — work on a mural, for example — so they have a lot of flexibility. We give them the materials and try not to tell them what to do. The things that they come up with are just amazing!
Please share about some recent projects your artists have worked on. Kate: Recently, we made rain sticks. I was out on a walk when I found these really great cardboard tubes in the dumpster. A friend of mine cut them up with his table saw. I hammered in the nails and let the kids put in a couple of handfuls of dried beans, tape on the ends and decorate them.
Hazel: We made musical instruments from spindle cones, PVC pipe and rubber gloves. The kids had so much fun with them!
Kate: We made masks out of empty gallon milk jugs. We cut them in half, then the kids covered them with tape and decorated them with feathers and other objects. Now I’m obsessed! Every time we finish a gallon of milk, I have to bring the empty bottle in here.
Kate: We will present an artist’s work. I’ll do a PowerPoint presentation. Then we will give the kids the materials and they decide what to do with them. Just the other day, we looked at some Mark Rothko paintings, which are big blocks of color. Then they all painted whatever they wanted. The kids get so excited and want us to display their work. Another time, we looked at Jackson Pollock.
Where do you get your art supplies and materials? Hazel: We had no start-up money so we went through our own closets! We think it’s really cool that we recycle things. We do not charge for materials.
Do you take donations? Hazel: We take whatever you’ll give us! If you look over there, you’ll see we took the boxes from Girl Scout cookies and the kids made a big, giant house out of them.
Do you have summer programs too? Kate: Yes, we are offering classes in partnership with [which operates the , or BASE]. We have four interns for the summer. (In order to graduate from BASE, kids have to do a 50-hour internship.) Classes will be held at .
Hazel: We are very excited about celebrating National Mud Day on June 29 and also being in the .
Where will you be expanding next year? Hazel: We are doing the after-school program at next year. Washington is going to be an arts magnet school. I will be the director at Washington and Kate will be here at Paden.
We are also going to pilot a Breakfast Buddies program at Washington. Just imagine if you’re a busy mom and you need to get your child dressed and out the door. Wouldn’t it be great to know that your child is going to learn to cook, learn some table manners, have fun and start school in a good mood?