How It Started
Community residents and artists came together in April 2011 and formed as "ARTs pARTners" to raise awareness of the economic and cultural benefits of the arts and establish an arts center in Central New York. The performing arts were represented by members of the former Port City Theatre and Fulton Community Theater producing shows in Jubilee Hall at Holy Trinity Church at the time, and Fulton Art Association advocated for visual artists.
We spent the first year attracting attention from all segments of the arts - visual, literary, and performing arts. Members promoted a variety of mediums and passions during local events and in public programs, all in pursuit of a roof over our heads to begin programming.
In June 2012 we were offered space at State St. United Methodist Church in Fulton where we had access to three basement classrooms, two kitchens, and a large capacity dining hall. We even had our own separate entrance where we could put up a sign and invite the public in.
In May, 2013 we expanded again with an Art Gallery in Downtown Fulton at 47 S. 1st St across from the gazebo next to the Oswego river. A year later we began a partnership with Cayuga Community College and moved the center and the gallery into the old Fashion Bug store at River Glen Plaza (Formerly Kmart). We immediately gained ample parking, easy access and great exposure. We converted the Gallery downtown into a studio space for art classes.
The collaboration with CCC brought us a professional image almost immediately with the presence of our stage in a newer, more modern facility, and we enjoyed 4 years of exponential growth in our theatre program. But our visual arts program began to decline with lack of classroom space in the same location. Plus it was hard and costly to maintain two locations. It became increasingly obvious in order to meet our mission to provide all arts for all ages, we needed a single location to provide arts programming as well as offer a gathering place for the community to share art.
In June 2018 we purchased a vacant downtown building and with vigorous community support launched a capital campaign to bring the building up to code. On February 15, 2019, just 6 months after starting renovations, we celebrated a soft opening with the theatre and lobby and the premier of Little Women, the Broadway musical. Target date for final completion of all renovations is June 2019 when we will have completed a Wheelchair elevator, new lighting in the theatre, fully functional multi-dimensional fire safety system, and a fully equipped teaching kitchen to complement our practically perfect brand new theatre.
We have just completed Phase One of our building renovation moving toward the grand opening of Fulton’s first Community Arts Center. This phase completed infrastructure upgrades and brought the 1970s building to code compliance. ADA handicap access will be completed in Phase Two with state funding which will wrap up the final projects that include refurbishing floors, ceilings, entry doors, etc. and completing the build out of income producing spaces in the building the teaching kitchen, classrooms, art gallery and 2nd stage.
Our timeline for completion is June 1st to open with events and programming in place designed to attract visitors to the center. This will include our summer Arty Camp, music events, culinary and performing arts and art activities to encourage community gathering while the summer months encourage foot traffic. Our educational programming will begin full time in September with specific goals for youth outreach and a wide variety of art classes and activities for all ages.
The Arts Center vision delivers a professional quality 100 seat theater, and an alternate smaller Black Box theatre on the lower level. This will allow us to expand our theatre program to include music concerts and more innovative performing arts.
Multi-use classrooms, a culinary teaching kitchen/café, workshop studios, & gallery space will accommodate programming in all the arts. We will offer multiple art activities, art programs in studio fine arts, culinary arts, writing and performing arts, after school/weekend youth activities, an Art Gallery for artists to show and sell their work to the community, and events that bring the community together. We are excited about block parties, art festivals, and meet-ups for artists, crafters, and neighbors.
It’s not too late to be a part of the story. We are passionate about the arts and together we can build a better future through the arts. If you agree, if you believe the arts are good for this community, please consider making a contribution to help secure the future of this beautiful new community arts center. Your gift will be much appreciated!