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A child looks through a window of a box house made at Cardboard Chaos.

Families can get creative for free in the final week of Cardboard Chaos at Matthews Opera House.

The event is an interactive creative makerspace where children and adults can construct artwork, toys and play areas out of cardboard, with all materials provided.

It is the first event by ArtCentral, a community collaboration to centralize the arts as an integrated asset for incusivity, economic development and outreach in Spearfish. ArtCentral was made possible by a $200,000 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant.

"Cardboard Chaos was designed to be a place where community members are given tools to engage creatively in a way they may not in their day to day life," said Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral manager.

The Cardboard Chaos program began in early February and has been a huge hit, according to Freer.

"It's been amazing," Freer said. "We had over 80 people come through on the first weekend alone, and that's for an effort that we hadn't announced until a week and a half before it opened."

Freer said the cardboard idea in particular was brought up in meetings by ArtCentral as a sort of miniature children's museum idea. Freer said that Northern Hills CASA helped give them a sense of what needs had to be met in the community.

"Building a brick and mortar children's museum is difficult, so we thought this small place where we can connect when the weather isn't nice would be a good idea," Freer said. "It turns part of the Matthews art gallery into a new space for just a month."

Freer said children and adults have responded to being able to build something new.

"There's a joy and simple pleasure to it that kids always love and that adults don't get enough of," Freer said.

With their first success, ArtCentral is already planning their next project. They hope to announce it within the next few weeks.

"That's what this grant is about: taking risks, trying something new in the community to see what works," Freer said. "It's a way to use resources we have to help bring the community together and enhance it."

For more information, visit All children must be accompanied by an adult.

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Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or

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