CNY Arts Center Moves to ‘Forever Home’ in Downtown Fulton

Volunteers of all ages work together to move pieces, even requiring the disemmbling of some stage pieces.

FULTON, NY – CNY Arts Center, a non-profit multi-arts center in Fulton, has begun the move into a permanent location in the city’s downtown.

Now located at 121-125 Cayuga St., CNY Arts Center board members have big plans for the future.

“The arts in and of themselves are so important, but when you pair it with an actual physical location, it has the ability to really cement things. We start here and grow out, that’s how I look at it. We finally have a permanent home now and we can start to really grow,” said CNY Arts Center Executive Director Nancy Fox.

With a prime location in the city’s downtown region, CNY Arts Center has a goal to bring people downtown to rollover all current programs and include significantly more to what is offered.

“The arts center is going to be an anchor for the downtown revitalization. It is going to bring people downtown, we are going to pair up with the restaurants and businesses that are around us, we’ll be able to collaborate with other cultural institutions, we’re going to bring people down for block parties, and concerts, and all kinds of things. We’re going to get people out the door, coming downtown. My hope is that it’s open seven days a week with something going on for the community each day. We want the community to see this as a gathering place. It will become a home for people to come and have positive exchanges,” Fox said.

The new location has enough space and a convenient three-level layout to allow for more programming.

The basement level will store props costumes, and set pieces on one half with the other half holding the “hot spot” stage to host comedy nights and other smaller events with audience seating. Fox plans to incorporate monthly teen socials and workshops in this space.

The main level will have a lobby, a 100-person audience theatre, stage open two levels, backstage area with access to staircase leading to mezzanine and green room, and a teaching kitchen that Fox intends to use as a food service opportunity for a startup culinary entrepreneur.

The balcony level will be transformed to include classrooms for instruction in group or individual settings.

Though a smaller space, the new location layout gives Fox hope that CNY Arts Center will be able to better serve its mission.

“Our missions has always been to provide experiences, education, and programming for all the arts. We weren’t able to meet that mission in our former location. It was all one space, it wasn’t ours to adapt,” said Executive Director Nancy Fox. “The (former) space just didn’t fit our mission and our mission is what drives us. Our vision is to build a better future for Fulton through the arts and that meant we had to move.”

A long time coming, finding a “forever home” was important to Fox and the rest of the Board of Directors.

“The thing is, people exist in isolation now a days. People just aren’t connected. When you enter an environment like the arts center, things start to happen. You start to open up, and you start to build relationships, lifetime experiences happen,” Fox said. “It is the culmination of years of talking and planning, and the time is finally right.”

Now in a building that has been empty for 11 years, there are some needed renovations and upgrades to be made before the center will be completely usable.

For that reason, the board of directors has decided to suspend programming for the time being.

Fox is hopeful to open for the showing of White Christmas by the end of 2018 with complete finalization of all upgrades including the inclusion of an ADA-approved wheelchair lift and theater lighting expected next year.

The move has been possible by pursuing and utilizing grants, donations, and ongoing fundraisers. CNY Arts Center has raised more than $50,000 including donations from local banks.

Significantly, a great deal of help has been found in the Richard S. Shineman Foundation who just recently awarded CNY Arts Center with $110,000 – a chunk of money that Fox said will help to really get things moving.

With money available, much of the intended work is dependant on availability of contractors. Fox said she and the board will continue “very aggressively pursuing” contractors and grants to continue moving forward.

In the meantime, CNY Arts Center has continued moving forward with programming and projects. Last week, a new mural was hung at the Oswego County building located at 200 N. Second St., visible for traffic on State Route 481.

A project years in the making, the concept of the mural was brought to light by Leslie Paice five years ago. After soliciting artists to submit pieces to fit the concept, Dr. Angela Arrey-Wastavino was selected with the winning design.

With help from Harborfest 2013 guests painting tiles, Dave Curtis at 4m for donating materials, Steve Beebe with metal fabricating, a donation from the Shineman Foundation and persistent CNY Arts members, the mural was finally brought to life and on display.

The mural is the second to grace the city of Fulton through the CNY Arts Center, a stained glass mural was put up at Indian Point in 2012.

“I think people get so busy, they don’t notice the beauty around them. The drive around and all they see is that empty store, or that pile of rubbish waiting to be cleared, or the homeless people walking down the street. After a while, they won’t notice the murals either but that’s why it’s important to keep putting up murals and keep trying to change the landscape. If you put something they haven’t seen before, it gets their attention for a while. I think it just reminds us how important art is. Art is critical in our everyday lives, but again we don’t see that either,” Fox said.

They will continue making murals and finding convenient locations throughout the city to display them, she added.

The CNY Arts Center’s other downtown location, located at 47 S. First St., is currently hosting Arty Camp and a free lunch and art session for children every day from noon – 2 p.m. This location will stay open indefinitely.

Everyday expenses of the arts center are covered through memberships.

Playing off their new address, 121-125 Cayuga St., CNY Arts Center will offer yearly memberships rolled back to $10 for the next 125 days, the deal expiring on November 11, 2018.

“Ten dollars gets you part ownership in the brand new community arts center, that’s what it does,” Fox said.

To see more information on CNY Arts Center, make a donation, or fill out a membership, visit their website here.

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