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Donation Gives Digital Art Wings

Hamilton, Ohio – Sometimes favors fall from the sky.

In a manner of speaking.

When the Fitton Center hosts its first-ever Digital Art Summer Camp in June, it will do so with a huge assist from NetJets. The Columbus-headquartered company devoted to private air travel donated the 10 refurbished iPads campers will use to create their artwork.

The tablets landed in Hamilton by chain reaction.

Fitton Center Director of Education Kate Rowekamp already had digital art on her mind last fall when a teacher she met at an art education conference suggested she inquire if NetJets might make a donation.

In November of 2022, Fitton Center Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley got in touch with Mark Yokers.

Yokers, a Hamilton native and 28-year NetJets pilot, has a background in music, including a degree in music education from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He was the band director at Lynchburg Clay High School early in his career before he began flying professionally.

“A lot of people talk about STEM education – science, technology, education and math,” he said. “I say STEAM. You need that A for the arts, too. This donation is a way to merge that technology and the arts.”

NetJets originally used the iPads for their flight manuals and other airborne necessities.

“There were 19 binders of materials condensed onto those tablets,” Yokers said. “We would set aside hours a day to go through the binders and update pages. It took a lot of time and a lot of space. The iPads made the manuals a lot easier to work with and lot easier to transport.”

Yokers contacted the NetJets Employee Resource Center to see if a donation might be possible.

“Lo and behold, they took it and ran,” Yokers said. “We got it going.”

Diana Stainisor from the ERC contacted Courtney Hessenauer, NetJets Director of Global Communications, Philanthropy & Sustainability. She contacted to the NetJets Technology Team saying, “I am always very willing to donate equipment like that to a worthy cause or group.”

From there Max Baig - Lead Mobile Device Administrator, Enterprise Mobility - put Terry Counts on the project. “A shout-out to Terry Counts for making it happen,” Baig said.

Indeed, a little more than a month after that initial question, NetJets prepared, packaged and shipped the which arrived Dec. 27.

Now the Fitton Center not only has the donated iPads, but also a re-dedicated technology suite for digital art.

The large second-floor room on the north end of the building once served as classroom space for Butler Tech. More recently, the Fitton Center rented it out as office space for local businesses.

“We are grateful for the iPads and excited to originate this camp,” Rowekamp said. “This is an important way for us to expand and evolve how we serve our community. With so many tech-savvy students – and that number growing every year – we are glad to offer the space and the tools to learn traditional creative techniques with modern methods and for our students to create their artwork in new ways.”

Digital Art Sumer Camp runs 1 to 4 p.m. June 26 to 30 for ages 12-16. Additional information and registration is available here. For more information about the entire summer camp season, click here; we offer 24 different camps for three different age groups over six weeks in June and July.

And that’s just the start, both for the iPads and the technology suite. Stay tuned for more information coming soon on partnership programs in conjunction with the Hamilton Journal-News and Cox Media, as well as an international opportunity with SOS Art.

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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