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​Catalyst Arts Collaborative is an inclusive, collective organization based in the Treasure Valley who believes that everyone is creative and that the Arts serve all. We provide opportunities for community connection and support for creatives – of all types and at all stages – through facilitating education, enrichment, and outreach programs that inspire and encourage growth.​




Catalyst Arts Collaborative is housed within the Gem Center for the Arts in the heart of the Bench in Boise, Idaho. Located near the iconic "Washer Woman," the "Cat" primarily operates from a small community classroom setting in the basement, where on any given day you can find art and writing workshops, figure drawing, lectures, film viewings, book clubs, meetings for Arts organizations, and overall, a sense of community and inclusiveness. We understand that everyone is learning different skills at a different pace, and we LOVE to foster creative growth for ALL life-long learners, providing diverse perspectives within our curriculum in a wide range of mediums and topics.

We are always developing new programs to support artists and include the community. Bridging the gaps between separate Arts organizations and encouraging collaboration over competition is an overarching goal, as well. Our passion lies in supporting EVERYONE to tap into their creative potential and to provide opportunities for those who otherwise would not be able to engage in the Arts.


Meet the Cat Team

Meet our talented ensemble of creatives, each bringing a unique blend of artistry, passion, and innovation to the Cat canvas.

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Candy Canning, M.A.T.
Founder & Owner

Candy has been an avid advocate and facilitator for the Arts for over 20 years. As a professional artist and educator, she's taught in public and private settings to students of every age; most recently, she's taught art integration as an adjunct instructor in Boise State University's Art Education program. Her passion for helping people learn and grow is all-encompassing, and her talent for connecting and inspiring others to work together helps make big dreams come to fruition. Her art expertise spans across many mediums, from sculpture, ceramics and mosaic, to photography, weaving, painting , and public art, she enjoys combining elements to create new and multi-faceted works that surprise and delight.


Candy is a co-founder of The Gem Center for the Arts, a 24,000 sq.ft. visual and performing arts facility on the Boise Bench, where she currently serves as the Arts Director. Candy also founded Art Project Boise in 2010, which includes 1,300+ members of the art community in and around Boise. Art Project Boise has worked on large-scale projects in collaboration with the Sierra Club and with the international Inside Out Project, which was exhibited at the Modern Hotel and Jack's Urban Meeting Place (JUMP). Candy curated exhibits for the Owyhee for two years, showcasing artwork by Art Project Boise artists.


A nature and animal lover, she enjoys hiking in her beloved Boise foothills and Sawtooth Mountains, writing songs and making sweet harmonies with her wife, playing board games, and raising four ridiculously cute cats, Lucy, Savannah, Frida, and Freckles.

Dana Moon Long
Writing Program Coordinator

Since she can remember, Dana has been making up stories. She began writing in grade school when she discovered creative writing was a legitimate course of study. She has written everything from fictional short stories to poetry to a current nonfiction work in progress.
Over the last 15 years, Dana has participated in various writing groups, leading the Huckins Writer's Guild for 4.5 years, and was an active member of the Boise Vineyard church's art ministry for nearly 7 years.

In 2017, Dana began her own business, Massive Happiness, having inherited the name from her late fiance. Since then, Dana has begun to set herself apart as a writing coach and editor while developing relationships with many amazing local colleagues and writers. She looks forward with great excitement to partnering with the GEM Center/Catalyst to create a place where writers can collaborate, learn, and propel their endeavors forward.

When Dana is not working, she thoroughly enjoys exploring the fabulous Idaho outdoors in her 4-wheel drive adventure-mobile by off-roading and camping as often as possible. When at home, Dana loves watching BBC TV murder mysteries, sipping a good wine, and snuggling with her adorable cat, Cally.


Ken Levy

Ken Levy is a professional freelance news and feature writer, editor and photographer based in Boise, Idaho. He retired in 2015 from a 30-year career as an award-winning community journalist. He continues to freelance for web sites and community newspapers, and provides essential writing, editing and photographic skills to numerous clients.


Ken's rotating exhibits of photography can be found in all four Blue Sky Bagel restaurants in the Treasure Valley. His work is also on display at the Best Western Vista Inn at the Airport, Boise, and at Boise's Center for Spiritual Living. He was the featured photographer in the IdahoPTV documentary, "Barns of Idaho," in 2020, and is working on his barn photography book, "Disappearing Legacy: Old Barns of America" which he plans to publish in 2022.


Ken is also an avid gardener and hiker, and sings with the Common Ground Community Chorus. Contact him at, and visit his web site at to connect with his online photo galleries.

Alii Manley
Artist Mentor Program Coordinator

Alii is a sign language interpreter, working in local schools with children and parents. She also oversees our Catalyst Artist Mentor Program (CAMP), in partnership with Boise State University and Boise Open Studios Collective Organization (BOSCO) and additional Arts organizations and artists throughout the Treasure Valley and across the globe.

Like the rest of us, Alii is a do-er. She has been incredibly valuable to our organization and we feel so very lucky to have her time, talent, and expertise on our team.



From teachers to models, accountants and volunteers, there are many people supporting the "Cat" with their time, talent, and knowledge.

Contact us if you'd like to be a part of our growing community!

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