The Creative Spirit
Community Arts Center
6 raymond street in Potsdam, ny
We are purchasing 6-8 Raymond St, a building in downtown Potsdam that adjoins directly to the North Country Children’s Museum.
You may remember this as The Tile Co. and formerly the Creative Spirit Community Art Gallery, featuring intricate and locally crafted mosaics inside and out.
We felt it was the perfect home for SLC Arts, and plan to organize the renovation of the 7,122 sq ft space that we will occupy in two phases over two years.
The new Arts Center will provide the North Country community with a central hub for the arts, offering people from all walks of life the crucial opportunity to explore creative channels while learning to communicate innovatively and value individual expression.
The upstairs space will include a retail store/art gallery and class/conference room, along with office spaces. The downstairs will include the existing art gallery with upgrades, a performing arts wing with dance/music rehearsal room and private practice room, and a visual arts wing with an open concept makers’ space, offering specialized equipment including drawing tables, photography lighting, ceramics wheels, and print-making equipment for artists, community members, and students to use.
The basement exhibit hall was well-known as the Creative Spirit Katya Greer Memorial Art Gallery, built by the late owner of the Tile Co, Otto Czerepak and named in memory of his late daughter.
Otto was an inspirational community member who believed in the value of the arts. He set up the Creative Spirit Art Gallery in the basement of his tile business when he saw a need for a gallery and performance space for local artists. He and his business partner Laura Passmore invested time and resources to showcase talented artists’ work throughout the building by creating an intricate mosaic tile facade on the front of the building, inviting muralists to paint expansive murals along the entire exterior of the building, installing tile flooring throughout the first floor of The Tile Co and another intricate mosaic tile floor in the gallery space in the basement
It is our intention to keep the history of the building and the memory of Otto in this space that he always dreamed would be a community arts center. With love and respect for this incredible man, and with the support his loving family and dear friends, we are creating the Otto Czerepak Memorial Fund to support our purchase of his beloved building and to ensure his legacy as an arts leader and arts lover in the center in perpetuity.
Quality of Life
Art, in all of its manifestations, is a central part of everyone’s lives. Everyone enjoys art in their life, whether they realize it or not: movies, books, comedy, music of any genre, the lovely heart crafted on the top of your latte – art is everywhere, and art makes life more beautiful and enjoyable. We know that access to arts and cultural resources improves social and mental wellbeing in distressed communities. A National Endowment for the Arts study states, “cultural assets are part of a neighborhood ecology that promotes wellbeing.”
Americans for the Arts agrees that “the arts build healthier, more vibrant and equitable
neighborhoods. The arts break down barriers, encourage participation, and spark innovation
– all necessary characteristics for a community to expand and flourish.” The arts are central
to community development. The community congregates for musical performances during
Summerfest, the Ives Park Concert Series, and even every Friday at Maxfield’s Restaurant.
Hundreds of pictures are taken in front of the various murals we have in public areas. Dance
and theatrical performances can be viewed during Fright Night or the LoKo Arts Festival. And
community members can often join poetry readings in local coffee shops and libraries. We will
create a central place in Potsdam to explore creative expression and celebrate the culture of
our regional community all year round.
Entertainment and Tourism
We will help the Village of Potsdam reach its goals of establishing downtown as a destination. People go out for entertainment, so when we host exhibit openings, concerts, and classes, our event goers will be downtown and spend their money in other local businesses. We will attract visitors from around the region to our downtown for these entertainment opportunities, which will increase spending in other local establishments such as restaurants and retail stores.
Resident Recruitment and Retention
Potsdam is home to SUNY Potsdam’s Performing Arts Center, Gibson Art Gallery, Community Performance Series, and the Crane School of Music along with hundreds of visual artists, musicians, thespians, dancers, and writers. All four local universities will benefit from our new arts center by rebuilding a vibrant downtown for new students, faculty and staff. These recruits will find that their creative powers are stimulated in our community and will envision a thriving life here.
The new arts center will help retain professionals and families to the community. With our four world-class universities within a 10-mile radius, the North Country is excellent at training professionals, but we have not yet mastered the art of retaining those professionals. Part of this retention will come from creating a culture of innovation and community participation.
Establishing a downtown arts and culture district with the new arts center and the North Country Children’s Museum will encourage economic development by offering an opportunity for people to visit and enjoy the work of talented artists from near and far. We will be a primary attraction in downtown Potsdam. The catalytic nature of the arts will fill up empty storefronts by propelling future investments from philanthropists and entrepreneurs inspired to create businesses in a dynamic, creative community. There may be additional granting options for public art projects around the Village from state and private investments, but we have to build the walls before we can begin to paint them, figuratively speaking.
Job Growth and Creation
We currently have one full-time director and five part-time employees and by the completion of the final phase of development, we intend to increase our staffing to four full-time employees, four part-time employees, and an independent cleaner. This will improve our capacity to create meaningful programs, effective outreach, and community engagement.
Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
The new arts center will allow SLC Arts to establish robust volunteer positions for community members of all ages and abilities, and internships for high school and college students. We anticipate that these opportunities will open doors for disadvantaged youth in our region who likely would not have the ability to pursue work experience in the arts industry.
Arts Entrepreneur Support
This space will allow us to support the work of arts entrepreneurs in our region by not only selling their work in the store but offering space to teach in our classroom areas, create in our maker space or rehearsal rooms and showcase their work in our gallery or performance hall. Our store would help develop arts businesses by providing an equitable share of profits from sold artwork. We will also have three long-term studio rental opportunities for professional artists. The Village of Potsdam and SLC Arts have worked together on Artist Microenterprise Grant program and may explore reestablishing that program again.