Creative 360 will be trading in one Mid-century modern former church home for another later this summer when they move from their current location in Midland on Bayliss St., originally built for The Salvation Army, to the site of the former Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church. And just like churches seek to serve their communities and bring people together, the same is at the heart of Creative 360’s core values. “Expanding for us does not mean offering three times as much ‘stuff’ but instead welcoming three times more of our community,” says Laura Vosejpka, Executive Director.
Creative 360 Executive Director Laura Vosejpka
Both built in 1962, the Bayliss St. building is 5,000 square feet while Chapel Lane triples that at 15,000 sq. ft. The new facility is located at the intersection of Jefferson and Chapel Lane. Vosejpka says while increased space allows for more people to take part in Creative 360’s partner programs, classes and events, it’s also about the flexibility of space the new building affords. “When setting up for events, accessibility is an issue. We need to have enough room around everything for wheelchairs and walkers, and right now it’s sometimes difficult to attend things here because of this. Then people just don’t or can’t participate,” she says. Overall, the new building is much more inclusive, another of Creative 360’s core values.
Installing an elevator was one of the first things founders Cynthia Keefe and Linda Z. Smith did when they moved from their original Townsend Street location, which opened in 1994, to Bayliss Street in 2004. Because the accessible restroom is on the lower level, this made the building technically fully accessible, but not easily so. There’s only one stall, but Chapel Lane has multiple stalls and everything is on the main-floor level, Vosejpka says.
Some specific uses can also be challenging at the Bayliss location because the building has essentially only two large rooms available, one on each floor. “I can’t have more than two things going on here at a time, and some groups need space that’s more private than that,” Vosejpka says, “The new space has a lot more opportunity.”
Creative 360 team "posing" outside new location.
In addition to the sanctuary wing of Chapel Lane becoming a performance and event space, and two wings becoming gallery and classroom space, the fourth wing is a large commercial kitchen. In August, the pews will be pulled to allow for flexible seating, but not much else remodeling - wise will be done right away. “We’ll experience the space first for a while, then decide how best to serve the community; we’ll live in it for a while,” Vosejpka says. The building has been very well cared for, she says, “and for that we are extremely grateful.”
She calls this Phase I of the move. Phase II needs some planning, she says. “We will align [what we do] with our strategic plan together with our Board. We’ll also talk with groups around the state and country to learn from them. We [hope to be] more than just a bigger version of the same. We have the opportunity to create something magical.”
Creative 360 Board member Alex Rapanos says, “We’ve been cutting-edge in trying new things and bringing in partners who wouldn’t have a chance otherwise [in much larger venues]. He mentions the recent performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It
as a good example. “We’re good at meeting little niches; it’s things people enjoy,” he said. Now we’ll be able to ask ourselves, “What more can we offer?”
Vosejpka says the downtown space will remain as is for at least the duration of its current three-year lease, where it provides extra event space, a retail space for student art and second-hand pieces, and small cubicle rentals. “It’s also very visible,” she says, “and that’s important given that many people still do not know about us.” The downtown location is on Ashman Street, less than a block from Main Street. Creative 360 started offering programming there last year.
Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church will be the new home for Creative 360.
The last event to be held at the current location on Bayliss will be the Hath Summer Players’ production of Steel Magnolias
in July. August is moving month with a big opening planned for September. Specific details are still in the works. “We’re putting together some special events to show our new neighbors what we’re about,” Vosejpka says.
Overall, the Chapel Lane building allows for Creative 360 to align more directly with its mission and core values. Vosejpka says, “I believe we are not defined by a space but rather by an experience people have when they walk through the doors, and that’s not going to change. That’s the value we bring to the community - the experience.”
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