Former Plymouth middle school woodshop to be converted into art gallery, classroom, and more

Plymouth's old Central Middle School ceased operations in 2015, the city having moved its 7th and 8th graders to another facility in town. But the historic school building in downtown Plymouth is set to educate children once more, this time in the form of art education.

While rest of the 100-year old building has been converted into the Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex, the corner of the old middle school that once housed a wood shop classroom is now becoming home to Warehouse Studio and the headquarters and classroom of Art Foundation. Warehouse Studio amenities will include a modern art gallery, production studio, and retail space.

The second part of the project, Art Foundation, is a non-profit designed to foster and nurture the creative minds of young people. According to artist Tony RoKo, founder of both Warehouse and Art Foundation, he wasn't supported in his creative endeavors as a kid, and this is his chance to give what he never received. The Plymouth location will serve as the headquarters for his non-profit, as well as a classroom.

To raise the money required to launch both Warehouse Studio and the Art Foundation space, RoKo has partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on a crowdfunding campaign. Should Art Foundation successfully raise $40,000 by Nov. 7, MEDC will contribute a $40,000 matching grant as part of their Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative.

The crowdfunding campaign is being hosted by the Michigan-based Patronicity platform, which is online here.

According to officials, the money raised from the crowdfunding campaign will go towards renovating the old wood shop into a studio, furnish the classroom, and install modern technologies befitting a gallery and retail store. Funds will also go towards the development of curricula and public programs to be carried out at the main Plymouth location as well as Art Foundation's satellite location at the DEN non-profit accelerator in Detroit.

The Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex, the future home of Warehouse Studio and Art Foundation, is located at 650 Church St. in downtown Plymouth.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.