By Evry Mann
I have read with interest Kitty McCullough’s two posts and the reply from Kevin O’Connor and welcome such a robust dialogue. There is little point in repeating Kevin’s rationale for this project as he does a very good job of laying out the reasons behind it. Instead, I want to focus on the role of the Center for Creative Education and why we are such strong advocates for it.
Last February, I came into our studio in midtown to find parents and students sitting in the entryway. Our waiting area was full and both the dance studio and our percussion room were full to capacity. My first thought was “we are going to need a bigger boat.” It is a good problem to have and we are grateful that our programs have been growing so steadily over the past few years. We love our current space but recognize that we cannot continue to develop our programming without additional space.
So, we reached out to RUPCO and began a discussion about how to find a new home. We looked at a number of potential spaces along the Broadway corridor but could find no adequate solution. We explored the possibility of doing something at the former King’s Inn site but found that unworkable. Then Kevin suggested the former bowling alley which given its size and location will make for an easy transition and provide us with room to grow.
We plan to have three movement studios, an expanded instrumental space, a much larger computer arts technology room, a daycare center and an internet cafe.
We have been wanting to work with younger children and the new daycare center is much-needed in midtown. It will allow parents to bring their kids to a safe, nurturing and creative environment while they take a fitness class or learn new skills in the computer lab. The cafe will not only serve our clientele while they are waiting for their children to finish dance class but will add an important amenity for midtown residents. We will also be able to offer a wider array of performing arts and wellness classes while providing a better space for POOK and the Energy Dance Company.
The Center for Creative Education has worked in midtown Kingston for almost twenty years now. Most of our kids come from the neighborhood and we want to work with even more in the years to come. Over 85% of our students are low-income and receive tuition assistance. We provide the only after school performing arts activities in midtown and our kids need positive, creative things to do after school. This new facility will go a long way to filling that need.
Finally, a note about the Carnegie Library. CCE was the moving force behind the renovation of that historic structure and helped raise $850,000 for the project. Kitty offers an erroneous speculation about why we are no longer involved there. Soon after the renovation was completed, there was a change in leadership at the Kingston City School District: a new superintendent, a new school board president and a new principal at the high school. We had to begin lease negotiations anew and rethink the programming at the Carnegie. After discussions lasting many months, it was decided that the District wanted to go in a different direction and lease the building to BOCES. From a financial point of view, this made a lot of sense and though disappointed we even agreed with the decision at the time.
And now, we are thankful that we are not locked into a long-term lease in a building that is too small to meet our needs. This has left us free to pursue the development of our own dedicated space and we are excited about our partnership with RUPCO and the tremendous potential this has for a transformational project in our beloved midtown Kingston and the school board a new president which also called for a reevaluation of programming at the Carnegie.