Youth art groups in Madison have been searching for a place to call home for decades. Madison’s new 65,000-square-foot Madison Youth Art Center, which breaks ground today on Madison’s near east side, will be that state-of-the-art facility that hopes to serve more than 25,000 young people a year.
“It is my hope that Madison Youth Arts Center will give all children in our community the opportunity to engage in creative expression in a place that affirms their value, honors their voices, and reflects their dreams,” says Pleasant Rowland, who pledged $20 million to the building earlier this year, in a statement announcing the groundbreaking.
The groundbreaking event for the $35 million art center, designed by Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) and built by CG Schmidt, will be held today at 2:30 pm at the corner of East Mifflin and North Ingersoll, across the street from Lapham Elementary School.
The new Center will provide opportunities for youth to engage in all varieties of arts activities – music, theater, dance, and more. It will serve as an arts community hub and provide desperately needed space for organizations that serve youth through the arts.
Dana Asmuth, who has been working on the campaign and helping to get the word out., says that they are optimistically looking for the Madison Youth Art Center Grand Opening to be held in April of 2021.
“Hopefully, we’ll have good weather for the ground-breaking,” she tells Madison365. “We will have a student speaker. There were be multiple speakers and dignitaries that will be coming.”
The impetus for the creation of the new building all started from two youth organizations – Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) and Children’s Theater of Madison (CTM)- organically looking for much-needed space.
“It’s really a struggle. When you’re a non-profit and you are facing all of these different rental fees, it can be really difficult,” Asmuth says.
Madison Youth Choirs and Children’s Theater of Madison have more than doubled participation in their programs over the past decade, but can grow no further at their current small spaces. Many Madison youth arts organizations face the same challenge of meeting the demand for programming while being hampered by overcrowded facilities.
“They started thinking that other people are in the same position that we’re in,” As muth says. “Instead of just finding a home for the two of us, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a home for all of the arts?’
So far they’ve had over 20 local different youth arts organizations express interest including Arts for All, Black Star Drum Line, Central Midwest Ballet, Drum Power, Fauhaus Project, Madison Ballet, Madison Marimba Club, Music Con Brio, Performing Ourselves, Whoopensocker, WYSO Music Makers, and Little Picassos.
“It’s going to give all of these kids a lot more access to the arts but it’s also going to help the educators who have started amazing programs for kids but need space to do it,” Asmuth says.
The new space will feature 12 rehearsal studios, two fully equipped dance studios, a sensory-friendly space, a 300-seat theater, a flexible 120-seat studio theater, production and costume shops, outdoor event spaces, a community room, and offices for permanent and short-term users. In addition, there is garage parking attached to the building.
“On the third floor, there are 15 offices and we imagine it being like 100state or Synergy Co-working,” Asmuth says. “We’re trying to create that for youth art organizations. When you are working in a non-profit, it’s just so wonderful to be around other like-minded people, especially in this world of the arts, where you can collaborate. So, we hope that there will be a lot of collaboration and partnerships and just general support between these non-profits.”
Asmuth says that they have been hosting listening sessions around town and going into different diverse communities to find out what they want and need and what people’s barriers might be to getting to the center. “We want to know how we can serve diverse communities and all of the communities in Madison,” Asmuth says.
The Madison Youth Arts Center, Asmuth says, has a focus on reflecting the true diversity of Madison and getting underrepresented youth involved, engaged, and participating in all aspects of the programming.
“The real dream behind this is that we can reach so many more kids … kids who don’t have awesome opportunities,” Asmuth says. “We are cutting the arts from our schools because of the expense levels, so to be able to offer this new building is very exciting.
“This will give so many kids a different avenue to learn and grow outside of school,” Asmuth adds. “This is so exciting for Madison.”
More information about the Center and the groundbreaking can be found at madisonyoutharts.org or by emailing Dana Asmuth at firstname.lastname@example.org.