JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson School of Arts has called Art 634 home for 14 years. Now, they're moving to a new location with big plans for the future.
Looking to leave the former wagon and carriage factory on Mechanic Street, they originally considered the Masonic Temple downtown but landed on a different location.
“Pre-COVID, we started to dig into more of the make and model of the building and learned that the space might be a little more challenging than anticipated. So we took a little break and did some research and learned in July that the Vermeulen’s building was going to be a little bit of a better fit," said Jackson School of Arts Board Chair Sarah Ermatinger.
They purchased the building for $500,000.
“The building is going to meet a lot of our needs," said Ermatinger. "More space, handicap accessibility and, a safer environment for our students.”
In the former Vermeulen's building they'll have 20,000 square feet at their disposal, more than three times the size of their current location.
“Four dance studios, a large theater space to possibly accommodate two theater classes at the same time," said Jackson School of Arts Executive Director Carolyn Moser. "We’re going to expand our art room. It will be three times the size of our current art room. We do run a preschool program two days a week here. We’re hoping to make that an all day schooling.”
Meaning more space for kids to draw, color, and dance.
The school will be leasing part of the first floor back to the city of Jackson for an incubator kitchen.
The school plans to set up shop in the new building by the fall.
“Nice to be centrally located. We’ll be right in the heart of downtown. It’s exciting for the parents as they’ll be able to drop off their kids and leave and go shop and go have dinner, so downtown is excited for there to be additional traffic," said Moser.
The new location also will be more convenient for those who rely on public transportation, according to officials.
“We’ll be right next to the bus station," said Moser. "One of the things that we hear a lot of is that transportation is an issue because 70 percent of our children are low-to-moderate income so having the bus station right there will hopefully be beneficial.”
Enrollment took a hit due to COVID-19 as the school lost around 500 of its approximately 800 students, but they believe those number will rebound in due time.
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