Thursday, June 18, 2015

Once again, I question whether the MFA actually cares about the community

My family and I love the MFA. The place itself is just amazing; all this stuff that's thousands of years old and still looks brand new just blows my mind. The staff are knowledgeable and will answer questions, the layout and overall atmosphere of the place is very disability friendly, and something about how quiet and calm the place seems to discourage visitors from coming over and patronizing children with disabilities in the way that they do in most other public spaces.

However, there are some things that make me wonder how much they actually want the community accessing the place. I wrote before about how they have a low-income discount, but they illegally refuse to process debit card transactions for the reduced-price tickets (and were condescending about it).

Today, I went to sign up for some art classes. We have previously done some one-time children's art classes. They were $9-$10 per class, and they were great. But apparently in the summer, the only thing offered is these all-day camps, which are several hundred dollars per week. Now, I get that not everyone is blessed with multigenerational families and flexible work lives, and many people need child care in the summer, but how much sympathy can I really muster for people who are paying $600 per week for MFA camp when there are readily available, high-quality programs for as low as $50 a week at Boston Center for Youth and Families, Boys and Girls Club, and so forth? I'm not going to include people who attend MFA camp under the heading of "people who need child care."

The people who *need* child care, of course, are either at the community centers, the free meal programs that have all-day drop-in care, or at home with a relative who is keeping them safe but not doing much beyond that. These kids would love some art classes taught by world-class instructors in an amazing facility. But, nope, no $10 art classes for them. Only $600-per-week art camp. I shouldn't knock them though -- they do offer partial day camp for the low low price for $250 per week. *eyeroll* Have I mentioned that the MFA requires children under *14* to be escorted into the building by an adult and signed out by an adult afterward? So even if a child saves up the money for one of these classes, they would need to have an available adult to accompany them. This is another thing that makes me think the MFA builds their programs and policies around rich people; the age to arrive and leave independently at the community centers seems to vary, but is in the 8-11 range.

Oh, and financial aid isn't mentioned anywhere on the website. I'm going to assume they don't have any? The community centers all do. They apparently manage to stretch their tiny budgets to subsidize families who need it. But these ridiculously expensive MFA camps can't? Hmm...

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