Decades of Service

Founded in 1989 in Grafton, Massachusetts, Apple Tree Arts is a non-profit community school for the arts serving people of all ages throughout south central Worcester County. The organization began as The Apple Tree, with two early-childhood music classes for parents and toddlers taught by Donna Blanchard at a historic church facing Grafton Common. The program grew out of the belief that music and the arts enhance and expand the human experience.

Over the years, the program has expanded tremendously to include private instrumental and voice instruction, theatre productions and classes, student instrumental concerts, summer programs, faculty concerts and a community concert series.

Our Mission

Our Mission – UPDATED as of June 2020!

The mission of Apple Tree Arts is to enrich our communities through the arts by providing high-quality performing arts education and experiences for all ages, identities, and abilities.

Our Philosophy

We believe music and theatre arts experiences can transform lives in profound and meaningful ways. Throughout history, humans have benefited from making music and participating in theatre as both a means of self-expression and self-discipline. Music and theatre education enriches lives and brings people together. We believe it should start as early as possible and continue throughout one’s life.

Our Vision

The vision of Apple Tree Arts is:

  • To offer high-quality, impassioned music & theatre arts education that supports lifelong learning.
  • To be a tireless advocate for early childhood music education in Central Massachusetts.
  • To offer educational programs that extend music and theatre into a broader artistic experience.
  • To offer outreach programs to under-served populations throughout Central Massachusetts.
  • To bring talented musicians and other performers to the community to educate and entertain.
  • To create partnerships with area organizations to broaden awareness of the importance of music in the human artistic experience.
  • To build a strong music community in Central Massachusetts through the continuous personal and artistic development of students, faculty, staff and volunteers.

Our History

Under the direction of staff member Jan Barlow, we began offering music as an enrichment component of area preschools and daycare centers. In 1995, through the efforts of an expanding board of directors, The Apple Tree was legally incorporated as Apple Tree Arts and included articles of organization and by-laws, formal policies and procedures, and established bookkeeping practices under the direction of Kathy Vandenengel. At that time, we also became an official non-profit organization.

Currently, Apple Tree Arts is a vibrant non-profit community arts organization serving over 3,000 people each year. Our ten-member board of directors, chaired by Aaron Chaisson of Grafton, is comprised of highly-educated, community-minded professionals who have brought us to new levels in advertising, grant-writing, budgeting, and strategic planning. The board’s initiatives include the formation of an Advisory Council, whose focus is intended to leverage the talents and resources of successful individuals within the community who have demonstrated an interest in and support of the mission of Apple Tree Arts.

With Donna Blanchard serving as the organization’s executive director, and with Kathy also working full-time, staff members of Apple Tree Arts now include several part-time people, including theatre arts director Lisa Scarlett, music education director Alaina Calloway Bolton, finance director Julie Davis, communications coordinator Liz Colognesi, and early childhood outreach coordinator Kayla Cardin. We are also served by an ever-growing corps of willing volunteers.

Committed to cultural enrichment that meets the needs and interests of many different audiences, Apple Tree Arts provides a wide range of performances and special community musical and theatre arts events throughout the year, as well as education programs in music and movement for children from birth on up, private instrumental and voice instruction, ensembles, theatre arts classes and performances, and student and faculty recitals.

In 2016, we moved our offices and teaching studios to the second and third floor of the Grafton Townhouse at One Grafton Common. After working with the Town of Grafton to secure the necessary funding, this historic space has been beautifully restored and the Great Hall can again serve the purpose for which it was originally intended: a central gathering place for the community. We are most grateful to our many friends in the community who supported us to make this historic opportunity become a reality.

Apple Tree Arts is supported solely through tuition, grants, private support, and corporate sponsorships.

Our Policies


Registration is done online, through our Jackrabbit Registration and Acuity Scheduling systems. To register, please click here if you are a new ATA student, and here if you are a current student with an existing parent portal

These policies are split into two files. Please click on the appropriate link to view:

2020-2021 ATA Music Handbook (private music lessons, group classes, early childhood, & ensemble programs)
2020-2021 ATA Theatre Handbook (theatre classes & productions, private acting lessons)

Our Calendars

Semester Calendars for 2020-2021

  1. ATA 2020-21 private lesson calendar (Sept – June)
  2. ATA 2020-21 16-week calendar Piano Partners (16 week semester)
  3. ATA 2020-21 10-week calendar Family Music, Cycle of Seasons (10 week semester)

Our Board of Directors

Apple Tree Arts Board of Directors 2020-2021

Aaron Chaisson, President
Cam Sowa, Vice President
Anjali Paranjape, Treasurer
Maria Murdock, Clerk
Alan Baker
Steve Lotterman
Theresa Mazzio
Paul Scarlett
Elizabeth Spinney

Our Faculty

Our Staff

Apple Tree Arts Staff Members

Executive Director – Alaina Calloway Bolton

Theater Arts Director – Lisa Scarlett

Business Director – Kathy Vandenengel

Finance Director – Julie Davis

Communications Coordinator – Liz Colognesi

Early Childhood Outreach Coordinator – Kayla Cardin