Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ValleyArts District Provides New Opportunities for Performing and Visual Artists

Companies Sought to Perform at Luna Stage; Planning also Underway for Visual Arts Co-ops and Shared Spaces

ValleyArts Inc, the arts service and activist organization of the ValleyArts District, seeks to expand opportunities for both the performing and visual arts by helping Luna Stage find new companies to perform there, and by creating artistic co-ops, shared studio spaces, and shared gallery/retail spaces.

The ValleyArts District is a 15-square block area located in Orange and West Orange NJ surrounding the Highland Avenue Train Station. The District is easily accessible by car or rail from all points in New Jersey and NYC.

Most of the ValleyArts District's creative programs and activities are housed in 46 arts spaces that have already been built through the arts-driven economic development initiatives of HANDS Inc -- the non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of Orange for the past 27 years.

HANDS Inc expects to reach its goal of building 100 arts spaces in the ValleyArts District within the next few years. All are designed to be permanently affordable, thereby avoiding the all-too-frequent pattern of artists being driven out of the very neighborhoods whose values have risen because of the presence of a creative community there.  

Shared Performance Spaces are Available in the ValleyArts District Now

For performing arts companies, the opportunity now exists to perform on an ongoing basis at Luna Stage, utilizing the company's 99-seat theater, 50-seat black box theater, and/or the rehearsal hall. Performing arts companies are sought beginning in 2013 on a long or short-term basis for schedules that complement the regular Luna Stage season.

Founded in 1992 by Artistic Director Jane Mandel, Luna Stage moved to the ValleyArts District in 2010 after 18 years in Montclair. In the past year celebrated performers at Luna Stage have included Frankie Faison, Suzzanne Douglas, and Andre Braugher. Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road, West Orange NJ. 07050.

An Expression of Interest survey for performing arts companies wishing to utilize the spaces at Luna Stage can be found at valleyartsnj.com/for-artists/livework-options/

All inquiries will be answered. Expressions of Interest are non-binding. Companies interested in two or more weeks per season will be invited to enter a formal proposal process.

Shared Visual Arts Co-ops and Studios will be Available in the ValleyArts District Soon

For visual artists, ValleyArts Inc is now inviting expressions of interest from artists who would like to work with the District on its efforts to create artist co-ops, shared studio spaces, and shared retail gallery spaces.

Two new buildings currently under construction by HANDS are expected to come online in the next six to nine months. These include the Kelli J. Copeland Artist Lofts at the corner of Freeman and Jefferson Streets, and The Powerhouse, on Nassau Street.

These renovated buildings will have spaces suitable for the creation of spacious arts co-ops and shared studio workspaces. Initial plans call for ValleyArts to play an enabling role to develop, organize, equip, coordinate, and market the co-ops. 

ValleyArts Firehouse Gallery
photo by Ally Blumenfeld
Research recently conducted for ValleyArts by Seton Hall University indicates interest in the development of co-ops in numerous visual arts disciplines.

ValleyArts is now organizing groups of artists to help plan affordable arts co-ops in four arts disciplines that have evoked strong early interest. These include painting, printmaking, digital media, and jewelry making.

The development of arts co-ops in other arts disciplines will also be considered based on responses to our online survey of artist needs and interests. Please visit valleyartsnj.com/for-artists/livework-options/ to complete the survey.

Cost to participate in one of the new arts co-ops (including access to shared studio space) is expected to be less than $200 per month. In addition, ValleyArts will make available to co-op members business professional development training and consultation through Rising Tide Capital and other arts business consultants. Master Classes by artistic disciplines are also being planned.

The ValleyArts District is already home to Luna Stage Theatre Company, Arts Unbound, the ValleyArts Firehouse Gallery, YEMA Gallery, Oualie Gallery, Garden State Urban Farms, ORNG Ink Teen Arts Center, Hat City Kitchen Presents, and more than 25 visual artists who live and/or work in the neighborhood. The District also shares strong ties with the Orange Board of Education and hosts a variety of education programs both in and outside the public schools.  

For more information on the ValleyArts District, please visit www.valleyartsnj.com

Any questions you may have can be directed to:

Richard T. Bryant
Executive Director
ValleyArts Inc. 

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