Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat

An unused building near the Sonora Dome is becoming a community hub for the arts in Tuolumne County, with new art classes set to begin there this winter.

The Central Sierra Arts Council's "Kids Art Studies Academy," or KASA, had its grand opening on Oct. 6 with art demonstrations and hands-on activities.

The event was a hit, with about 300 people attending.

Since then, dreams for KASA's future have been shaping up.

"We're still in the planning stages for all of this," said Connie O'Connor, executive director of the Central Sierra Arts Council. "But the vision is great, the reception wonderful, and people are really excited about it."

The Arts Council intended to start offering after-school classes at KASA in October, but setting up shop took longer than expected, O'Connor said.

KASA occupies the former Sonora Parent Nursery School building next to the Sonora Dome. The space is being rented from Sonora Union High School District for $1 a year.

The Central Sierra Arts Council also moved its office there this fall but plans to relocate again to the adjacent former Sonora High School cosmetology building for more space.

A new building for Sonora High School cosmetology students will open in January.

KASA will start offering fee-based afternoon classes for the community in February,

O'Connor said. The Arts Council will hash out the curriculum in coming days.

Some classes will be targeted at children in elementary school, some at high schoolers and some at adults.

All the program's instructors will be certified teachers, and classes will align to California curricular standards, O'Connor said.

She hopes to make the festivities of Oct. 6, which coincided with California Arts Day, an annual affair known as the Tuolumne County Youth Arts Festival.

Meanwhile, the Central Sierra Arts Council has remained busy, hosting a display of textiles from the Andes and several other exhibits in recent months.

Altogether, the Arts Council displayed 2,262 pieces of artwork between September 2011 and October 2012, a statistic that O'Connor started tracking this year.

The organization has about 410 members and will soon undertake a membership drive. It is also seeking volunteers.

For more information on volunteering with the Central Sierra Arts Council or on KASA programs, call 532-2787.