Newburgh’s New Center Kicks Off Construction

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – It was a sentiment uttered by several last Tuesday afternoon: “Kids will be dancing on Broadway.”

In this context, it was the “Broadway” Street in the City of Newburgh. However, the talent that is bound to soon be inhabiting the new home for the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy, now renamed: The Center for Arts & Education, is sure to be just as impressive and entertaining as that in New York City. Not only will the 74 Broadway site feature an assortment of classes in the arts, but it will further serve as an Early Elementary Literacy Center for students in grades K-3.

Right outside the building last week a crowd gathered to witness the Project Kickoff Ceremony, officially beginning the construction journey that lies ahead. The detailed project will be handled by the architectural firm, CSARCH, whose biggest market is educational buildings. So far, the abatement and interior demolition are complete and plans to finish up securing City permits for renovation as well as historic preservation funding are in progress.

“Everyone is so excited about how this building will transform the entire community,” said Thomas Ritzenthaler, Principal and Board of Trustees member for the past four years. “We could not have asked for a better location, as the windows literally overlook Broadway.” Reflecting on the recent anniversary of the moon landing, he added, “Today is one small step, and when the building opens, it will be like landing on the moon.”

Several political dignitaries were on hand at the Ceremony. One was Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, who has been a long-standing advocate for The Boys & Girls Club, affiliated with the Performing Arts Academy, as well as a pivotal person helping to secure needed funds for its operation.

“The Boys & Girls Club is a safe haven for so many,” said Jacobson. “It is tremendous what they are doing, and I will continue to fight for money to help them in any way I can.”

Another local politician, Torrance Harvey, City of Newburgh Mayor, also spoke. Actually involved in teaching a Hip Hop Class during Newburgh Performing Arts Academy’s first year, Harvey has always had a big spot in his heart for the arts, and as a teacher, for our youth and all their potential.

“This place is a symbol of promise and progress in the City of Newburgh,” exclaimed Harvey, as he glanced at the new site. “It shows that collaborating partnerships really do work; this is just the beginning, as we are going to keep doing what we are doing because it’s all about the youth and making the future better for them.”

Serving over 2,000 youth per year, the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh with a staff of around 100, offers quality, critical programs in academics, the arts and sports. The soon-to-be new Center for the Arts and Education is a vision Kevin White, Executive Director, along with his wife, Kim Turner, Founder, have had for many, many years. The Performing Arts Academy was the initial step, enrolling 100 students. Now, with crucially needed space being provided for the rapidly expanding enrollment (one that can now serve 500 students) and classes, even more young lives can be positively impacted in countless ways.

“We are committed to the growth of youth and this City,” said White. “Newburgh was once great, and it is now on its way to making a huge comeback to that same place.”

Turner, who was surrounded in New York City by similar places as the Center for Arts & Education as a child, could not have imagined not having these types of critical spaces in a place like Newburgh. Now that part of that vision has been realized, with the remainder likely to be in full swing very soon, Turner could not be happier.

“I get emotional just looking at this space,” said Turner. “It makes me realize just how much more room we will now have.”

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