Six months ago, staff at the city’s new Near East Side Youth Arts Center were planning a big opening celebration this fall.
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A festive neighborhood party. Crowded public tours. Even a neighborhood parade.
But due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, this grand opening simply couldn’t take place. Instead, the all-new $ 29 million MYArts facility at 1055 E. Mifflin St. hosted the public in small groups a few weekends ago for guided tours. Most of those present were curious neighbors.
Despite the lack of introductory hype, MYArts is well and truly operational – and serving its primary target users: young people.
On a recent Tuesday night, Suzuki Strings of Madison hosted a children’s violin lesson in a room – or “studio” as they are called at MYArts – while youth percussion group DrumPower, a program of UW Community Arts Collaboratory, was practicing just down the hall.
In another soundproof studio set up for dancing, children from the Northport Community Learning Center participated in a Performing Ourselves movement class. Colorful artwork by students of Cultural Connections, a group dedicated to enriching the lives of children whose loved ones are in prison, hang on the hallway walls.
Filled with natural light and colorful accents, the building is now home to the full-time Madison Youth Choirs, which fill several of its large class studios every Sunday with hundreds of young singers, all wearing face masks and sitting four-legged. each other as they rehearse. The organization previously occupied a shared space in the Westgate Mall, which has since been demolished.