Verona historic school at Sugar Creek development to become community arts hub

Verona historic school at Sugar Creek development to become community arts hub

VERONA, WISC. (WITH EXCERPTS FROM MADISON.COM) – The historic New Century Charter School in Verona could soon become Art House 350, a hub for artists and art education.

The historic school building is directly adjacent to a new Sugar Creek mixed-use development designed by Vandewalle & Associates that includes a public park and gathering space, housing, and space for commercial/ restaurant uses.

The arts nonprofit would take up the vacant 12,000-square-foot, two-story building at 401 W. Verona Ave., the former home of New Century Charter School.

The goal for this new location of Art House 360 is to provide an accessible arts education for all ages, empower artists from minority communities and foster an overall arts ecosystem, organizers said.

Organizers chose the former charter school for its walkable neighborhood and adjacent public green space near the city’s vibrant center. “In Mexico, it’s common to have artistic and cultural houses,” said Monica Cliff, one of four co-artistic directors and future tenants of the property. Others include Jessica Lanius, AJ Juarez and Karisa Johnson.

“One of the things we discussed when we started meeting during the pandemic was how much the arts are a great way to bring the community together. We wanted to in some way give a different meaning to the word ‘artist.’ Everyone is a natural creative.”

The center is expected to include four anchor tenants, including Cliff’s Inventiva Works, which offers visual art and theatre classes in Spanish; Theatre LILA, headed by Lanius, which hosts trainings for actors; Barrio Dance, a dance school headed by Juarez; and Slate BLUE studios, headed by Johnson.

The nonprofit is seeking major donors for its $2 million capital campaign to cover building renovations, Lanius said. Any renovations would preserve the architecture of the structure, built in 1917, Lanius said.