When you think of “the arts” what comes to mind? How about when someone says they’re an artist? Upon asking most people this question their answer is somewhere along the lines of fine arts and visual arts. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Art encompasses dance, filmmaking, music, creative writing, drama, cooking and so much more. That is what a community arts center is, an inclusive and safe place in which everyone in the community can come together to learn, teach, and create in all facets of the arts.
We are excited to open the doors of Peoria’s first community arts center this summer or fall, and it has been an exhilarating journey. It was just over a year ago that we were filing the paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, followed by:
- We put the 10 percent deposit down to purchase Greeley School.
- PPS allowed us the time to do our due diligence, so we did several walk-throughs with inspectors and spoke to community leaders to inform them of our plans.
- We battled it out at city hall to get our zoning permit.
- We applied and received our very first grant from Leaders Change Illinois. Thank you to Sen. Chuck Weaver for being one of the first to believe in our vision.
- We finally closed on the building in July and fully paid in cash in order to ensure that we have no debt.
- Next up we submitted for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant, and thanks to all of you, we won!
- Shortly after that, we were blessed that Peoria Public Schools allowed us to begin some of our art classes in Trewyn, Manual and Glen Oak as apart of their 21st Century Community Learning Center. Thank you to Dr. Kherat!
- We’ve also developed a partnership with the Illinois State University Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology to train our teachers and provide us with STEM projects for our students.
- Our other partnerships include: Peoria Public Schools, Big Picture, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardner Program, The Peoria Playhouse and we are currently in talks with Children’s Home, Friendship House, Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America, Neighborhood House, Peoria Art Guild, Quest, Peoria Park District, and a few more.
Our inaugural fundraiser brought in some great sponsors like Unity Point Health, Illinois American Water Co., Associated Bank and Komatsu along with approximately 50 founding sponsors and 100 donors!
We are so grateful for the outpouring of support as it really has been quite the year!
Soon we will be launching registration for our summer camp taking place during the entire month of July. We will be offering coding, dance, filmmaking, music, drama and animation. Stay tuned to our website (artincpeoria.org) and social media for all of the details.
We are working diligently to get the Greeley building up to code which requires us to install a wheel chair lift, put heating and cooling throughout the building, make the bathrooms ADA accessible, install plumbing and construct handicap ramps on the outside of the building. The building is in remarkable condition and we will not be making any major renovations to it, so once we raise the funds for these capital expenditures, we will open our doors.
This is truly a labor of love, and we welcome volunteers with the same love and passion for “the arts” to be part of this effort!