The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation to rethink its program offerings.
In 2019, CCPR ran 1,721 programs with nearly 31,000 registered participants, but in 2021, as CCPR adjusted to managing its services through an ongoing pandemic, those numbers dropped to 720 programs with approximately 11,000 participants.
CCPR’s recreation programs were largely subsidized before the pandemic began through the Monon Community Center fund, but with the facility temporarily closing in 2020 and welcoming fewer users when it reopened, officials knew they needed to adjust to “new financial realities,” according to Jylian Riches, CCPR marketing and communications director.
“CCPR was forced to eliminate four full-time positions that helped manage and support our program offerings,” Riches said. “With this in mind, we began developing a new recreation program plan, dubbed Reimagining Recreation, to develop a strategic and financially sustainable approach to programming.”
This means that CCPR will focus its program offerings on its core service areas of aquatics, fitness/wellness, inclusion and nature. As a result, most programs outside of those areas – many of which were run by contractors – are on hold indefinitely.
“We looked at which programs were easily found elsewhere in the community, like dance classes, gymnastics, karate, soccer, etc.,” Riches said. “Since the community still has plenty of resources to choose from locally, we felt it is less necessary for CCPR to also offer those programs and instead focus on the programs we have resources already dedicated to and/or are less offered throughout the community.”
The change was difficult news for Tatyana Komarova, founder of the International Talent Academy, which had offered a variety of programs for children at the Monon Community Center since the center opened in 2007. She said she had enjoyed working with dedicated CCPR staff members to fine tune her programs over the years.
“The contractors lost a great facility to provide the programs, and people lost the ability to take their children to a safe, convenient, centralized location as well as to find out about these programs,” Komarova said, adding that it will be difficult for small businesses and nonprofits to reach the same size audience that learned about their programs through the MCC’s marketing efforts.
Unlike some of the other contractors, ITA does not have its own facility. Komarova said she’s been able to use space once a week in the building of another former CCPR contractor, Dance Class Studio, but she’s concerned about the long-term implications of not being able to present her programs in the Monon Community Center. She said most of her business came from families who discovered ITA in CCPR’s recreation magazine.
Riches said as demand for programs increases, CCPR plans to reach out to contractors who ran many of the programs that are on hold to gauge their interest in returning.
Komarova said she is hopeful that ITA will be able to partner with CCPR again in the future.
“The Monon Center has always been a great part of our community, not only for its fitness center and water park, but for its amazing and unique kids programs that were offered to our community families,” Komarova said. “We sincerely hope the Carmel community can get together and help our community center to get the children’s programs back.”
Supporting the contractors
In a blog post announcing changes to its recreation programming, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation urged those looking for discontinued programming to consider using its former contractors. They include:
- The National Basketball Academy
- Indy Fencing Club
- Adamson’s Karate
- Rhythmic Gymnastics of Indiana
- Hamilton County Community Tennis Association
- Off the Wall Sports
- Dance Class Studio Carmel
- International Talent Academy
- Lift Up Tumbling and Nutrition
- Let’s Go Sports
- Amazing Athletes
Read the blog post at carmelclayparks.com/recreation-program-resources.