Believe it or not, creativity is truly a survival skill. Think about where we would be today without creative problem solving that leads to innovation and entrepreneurship? The Science Olympiad is an excellent example of creativity in action. Thinking outside the box is vital in the fast changing world of today. Increased competition means that businesses must be continuously improving and adapting, and the only way to accomplish that is through coming up with new ideas. Nurturing creativity fosters those ideas.

Many people think that art is pretty pictures and cut and paste, whereas, it is the process of creating that is important rather than the product. There is no “right” way to go about creating art, rather the value is in taking the time and space to explore a new process, material or idea. The rewards of learning or mastering a new skill teaches us perseverance. Perseverance is a characteristic necessary to a healthy adulthood. Children are naturally curious and interested in new things. By not having the opportunity to explore a variety of art mediums and creative tasks, the nurturing cannot take place and creativity can wither. By being able to work through mastering a technique or a process, learning to persevere will occur.

Creating can bring us pleasure and be a stress buster. Being creative on a daily basis can preserve and nourish our own hearts and the hearts of our communities.

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown is excited to be providing Colton students with creative experiences led by practicing artists from the region. A grant from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation made this project possible for the 2012/2013 school year. Fundraising within the community has allowed the continuation of the program throughout the 2013/2014 school year.

Overview of the Creativity Program

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn received a grant from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation to bring several creative experiences to each student at the Colton School during the 2012/2013 year. The program went well and creative fundraising within the community has allowed the program to continue in the 2013/2014 year. We are pleased to be providing students with creative experiences led by practicing artists from the region. At the Artisan Barn we believe everyone is creative in some way and hope that parents will encourage their school age children to participate enthusiastically in this opportunity.

Our strategy with this program is to expose students to mediums and techniques they may not have experienced in the past. We will be fostering creativity and exploration rather than being focused on producing a piece of “art”. We want the kids to have fun and learn to express themselves in new ways.

In May 2014, in conjunction with the school’s annual fair and stock show, student work will be displayed and some will be for sale.

A field trip to Artisans at the Dahmen Barn where students see examples of many types of creative expression and meet the working artists precedes each age group’s creativity sessions. In May, there will be an exhibit of student work in the Hay Loft Hall at the Barn, and a fundraising event is planned for the future of the program.

Students from grades 7-12 will be grouped together, and each of the elementary classrooms will participate as a separate group. The school is providing a special activity bus for the students who participate after school and the Barn is providing snacks. The K-6 students will have their sessions integrated into their school day.

At the Artisan Barn we believe everyone is creative in some way and hope that parents will encourage their school age children to participate enthusiastically in this opportunity.


About the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown is where art comes alive! Built in 1935 as a commercial dairy operation, the historic barn and its iconic iron wheel fence were donated to the community by Steve and Junette Dahmen in 2004. In tribute to the artistic donors, the structure was renovated into a state-of-the-art, fully accessible artisan center which opened in 2006.

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides studio space for artists to work in and sell their creations, a place for local artists and fine craftspeople to sell their work on consignment, a venue for local performing and exhibiting artists, and offers creative experiences for children and adults through classes and workshops.

Artisans at work in their studios answer visitors’ questions and share their creative process. Visitors may purchase directly from the artists or place custom orders.
In the gift shop, visitors may purchase art and fine crafts from more than 125 regional artists, specialty food products from the Palouse and books and DVDs about the Palouse region or by Palouse authors.

Four big events are held at the Barn each year: An art demonstration day in April that has a different theme each year, a summer tea, a fall festival in September and a Holiday Gala with gifts galore in December.

The entire barn renovation project has been done entirely with grants and private donations and with lots of volunteer help from the community. Learn more about the ambitious project and about the programs now available by clicking on the link:

Funding Provided By

Partners in this creativity project are:

  • Artisans at the Dahmen Barn
  • The Colton School Staff and Administration
  • Inland Northwest Community Foundation for funding the 2012-13 program
  • Financial support from art enthusiasts from the community with auction item purchases, purchases of student work and cash donations to continue the program in 2013-14
  • The Art Instructors who give time and talent to the program, many of whom donated pieces of their work for the 2013 auction.

Inland Northwest Community Foundation:
Inland Northwest Community Foundation (INWCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.  They have awarded more than $40 million in grants and scholarships in the Inland Northwest since their inception in 1974.
As the community foundation for the Inland Northwest, the organization serves 10 counties in Eastern Washington and 10 counties in North Idaho.  Their services help people who care about the region accomplish their charitable goals.

Community foundation staff and volunteers work with individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations to establish charitable funds to support the causes they care about within our region and beyond.  INWCF works with donors, nonprofits and community leaders toward a common goal to improve the quality of life in our communities.

INWCF professionally manages and invests the donors’ charitable dollars and assists them in awarding grants and scholarships from their funds.  The foundation makes sure the money is being used as the donors intend and monitors the use of the funds to ensure that they are making a difference.  Learn more with this link to INWCF’s website:

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn
Is providing overall coordination of the creativity program.  Activities include identifying artists from the Palouse area who have experience teaching children, scheduling creativity sessions for each age group at the school, giving students a guided tour of the Artisan Barn, providing classroom space for some of the creativity sessions and also display space in the Hay Loft Hall for the May 2013 exhibit of Colton student work.  The Barn representative also keeps the art display case at the school current, provides information for updating the school website and newsletter and oversees all expenditures of funds.  Barn staff is responsible for organizing the exhibits of student work and coordinating fundraising for future programs.

The Colton School
School staff and administration work with Barn representatives to identify curriculum subjects that may allow relevant creativity experiences, schedule the creativity sessions and to promote the art program. The school also provides the space for most of the experiences and provides materials for all the creativity sessions.  In addition, the school provides transportation to the Barn when necessary.

Sustaining the Program

Continuation of the program year to year will depend on raising funds from the community unless a grant can be secured.  There will be a fund raising event at the end of each school year and the program will be designed around the revenue that is generated.
If you have ideas for raising money, please contact program manager Leslee Miller at or call 509-229-3655, her home office.


Leslee Miller, manager at Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, wrote the grant and is coordinating the program.  She may be reached at her home office at 509-229-3655 or by email at :