Conversations began behind masks, in spaces where it was safe to meet. The theaters were dark, no art class, no dance class, no gallery nights. In this quiet period of history during Covid-19, four friends and colleagues began dreaming ….how we could reconnect as a community? How do the arts play a role in the health of all of us? How do we make something new – that has diverse voices woven into the identity from the beginning? What might be possible if the four of us joined together?
We took time to daydream, to play and draw up ideas we each secretly, individually had imagined only as a pipe dream. We boldly began to sketch OUR quintessential ART HOUSE. A space that is designed to be multicultural, for all generations, not stuffy or pristine, murals covering every wall, a messy, sweaty workshop space, alive with personalities from all walks of life, alive with experimentation, laughter and collaboration. A HOME, that together we would build by harnessing all of our our unique talents and lived experiences to create something truly ONE-OF-A-KIND.
And then one day...there it was! A beautiful 1917 historic schoolhouse on West Verona Avenue. Sitting there, empty. Not too big, not too small. Right smack dab in the heart of the community. Minutes from Madison. Exactly what we wanted: a neighborhood spot with character, right downtown, parks adjacent, commuter bike paths, a senior center and walking distance from the schools!
We dove in and asked questions. We learned that the City of Verona and the surrounding developers wanted to see the school come to life again with a community based organization. Really?!
The perfect space presented itself. We gasped, we gathered, and we went from
DREAMING about an art house to BUILDING the ART House 360!