By Jennifer L. Warren
KINGSTON – It’s been an over two year journey, laden with deep thought, diligent construction, unwavering patience and creative versatility, as well as large doses of love.
Last Wednesday, the vision of a passionately committed group of like-minded spirits became a reality when the Cornell Creative Arts Center formally opened to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. With some members from the Ulster County Chamber in attendance, the Center’s staff gathered inside the awe-inspiring 12,000 square foot space for the symbolic event which included guided tours, chocked full of details on the unique site.
Located on 129 Cornell Street in the heart of the resurging City of Kingston, the Center (once sporting a dilapidated warehouse look) was slated to open in March; however COVID had other plans. The flexible staff responded quickly, adapting their class offerings in art, music and dance to a virtual mode (live stream through app Mindbody), attracting an impressive following from members in other states and even countries. For many, the on-line venue provided (and continues to) benefits of convenience and ability to be creative in their home setting; however, so much of what the Center represents and offers stems from its in-person appeal.
All-inclusive (for people of every background, ability etc.), the Center was developed by ARC Mid-Hudson, with the focus on both virtual and live classes in the arts. Upon entering the building, there is a 1800 square foot dance and movement studio where bi-lingual and belly dance classes are among the class selections. Turn to the right, and you will be treated to a large, public gallery space, loaded with eye-catching artwork from local artists. Then, around the corner, tucked into a space loaded with light are a classroom and painting/drawing/mixed media studio, defined by color and positivity. Four other office studio rentals are available. And then there is the 1500 square foot, open ceramic studio, with both a gas (very rare) and electric kilns. Finally, the Center serves as a Kingston location for Arts Mid-Hudson as well as provides a Creative Co-working office space. One can’t help but be impressed by the specifics of the Center, but what truly sets it apart is its embracing philosophy and guiding mission.
“We see diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion as fundamental tenants to our operations and programming,” explained Art Director, Rachel Jacob, who added how the Center works with an assortment of community committees and personnel to ensure a multicultural curriculum that speaks to people from all experiences, abilities, skills and cultural levels. “We utilize gender-neutral forms, visual signage, promoting a safe space and bi-lingual signage when possible.”
Collaboration and support are also at the root-and heart-of the Center. Fusing businesses, artists and people with disabilities, it aspires to create a setting where people can work in unison, teaching, learning and uplifting one another with their individual strengths, leading to beneficial art practices, exhibition and sales opportunities and ultimately growth for all involved.
Supportive Arts Instructor Jillian Rahm has been instructing classes virtually since June due to the Pandemic restraints. Although the experience has been wonderful on several levels, she cannot wait to see her in-person students in her classroom at the Center.
“We are really trying to get the word out as well as much participation as we can for these classes (capped at 6 people),” said Rahm. “Teaching virtually allows people to be safe and in their home space, but there are glitches, such as not having art materials and sometimes technical issues; I’m so looking forward to having people come here to the Center in person, and experience this amazing place.”
To learn more about the authentic specifics of the Cornell Creative Arts Center, log onto their website at: www.CornellCreative ArtsCenter.org.