Staff Blogger: Ellen Venema, Rhein Center Assistant Coordinator

The C. Kirk Rhein, Jr. Center for the Living Arts lives on because of the generous nature of Lakeside. In gratitude for that kindness, we would like to take you behind-the-scenes for the first of multiple glimpses into the off-season work that makes the summer season so enjoyable.

Instructors & Classes

Ellen Venema & Michelle JohansenRhein Center instructors are a wonderful group of people willing to share their time, talents and creative energy with the Lakeside community. Many have been with us since the center opened in 1999, and we continue to welcome a host of new instructors each summer.

Often times, the instructors are former/current students who wish to share the fun they have had with others. Sometimes new people are referred to us by other Lakesiders who believe their friend/family member/acquaintance has something wonderful to offer the Rhein Center. Occasionally, we go searching for potential instructors among the booths of art shows. The result is an ever-evolving community of artistically-talented and crafty people who enjoy giving back and being a part of the Lakeside Chautauqua summer experience.

Rhein Center classes are proposed by the instructors that wish to teach them as early as the February leading up to the summer. Instructors are asked to complete a packet of paperwork describing the project(s), listing supplies needed and indicating their preferred week, day, timeslot and the age group they would like to teach. As the registration process is now accessible online, sample photographs must also be submitted for posting online along with the class details (and for our own visual understanding of the proposal).

Occasionally, proposed projects may be unfeasible due to high costs or low availability of materials, inadequate time for completion, lack of appropriate tools or available space, competing classes from other previously-scheduled instructors, etc. If this is the case, the Rhein Center Coordinator, Michelle Johansen, will work with the instructor throughout the spring to adapt the proposed project into something that can be carried out.

As each instructor brings unique talents and passions, the Rhein Center is able to offer classes that cover a wide spectrum of arts and crafts. Rhein Center class offerings are ever-changing, and there is always something exciting and new to try.

As the summer class schedule is being organized throughout the spring (in a process that somewhat resembles solving a Rubik’s cube), we look for gaps in our offerings, such as an artistic medium not offered in a given week, or an age bracket without available classes, and we try to fill them to the best of our ability. This includes calling on past instructors of projects that fit the bill or asking our already-scheduled instructors if they may be able to add a class or two. Ultimately, we can only offer what our available instructors are willing and able to teach.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in being a part of the Rhein Center’s teaching staff in 2017, please send an introductory email to Michelle Johansen at so that we may add you to the list for the Teaching a Class Proposal mailing during the winter. We always look forward to welcoming new and returning instructors each summer.