Art school becomes part of downtown Jackson revitalization with move to vacant building


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Over the past year we’ve told you about new apartments and businesses coming to Jackson.

And now more arts and entertainment will soon be making its way downtown.

6 News has the details on this big move for the Jackson School of the Arts.

It’s been vacant for three years.

But the old Masonic Temple Building on Courtland Street will soon be home to art, theater, and dance as the school of the arts moves into the heart of downtown Jackson.

The school has been thriving at its current location for ten years.

But it now needs to create more space.

“Every year, we’ve increased enrollment to the point where we’ve having wait lists. That’s the last thing we want.  Our mission is that all children can participate in the arts,” said Executive Director Kim Curtis.

The non-profit just announced plans to move from the Art 634 Building to the former Masonic Temple in downtown Jackson.

“We knew with the resurgence of downtown Jackson, we wanted to be a part of that,” Curtis said.

Built in 1907, the Masons used the building for 80 years.

After that, Vermeulens Furniture called it home until 2014.

The building is now owned by the city of Jackson.

Tuesday night, the city council approved a 15 year lease for the art school to occupy the first floor and basement.

Curtis says the building will be renovated to include dance studios, art classrooms, retail space, and much more.

It already has a sizable theater.

“It will be very exciting to see what does that look like and how do we use that best for our community,” Curtis said.

Curtis says the arts play a big part in building a vibrant community.

And the school is excited to bring more life to downtown Jackson.

“Whether that would be a mini hands-on children’s museum, or a place as an adult you can come and take ballroom lessons, and have a comfortable, fun vibrant place to go, and then go out to dinner with your friends. And then also, spend some time in our art gallery that we’ll be creating,” Curtis said.

The school hopes to be in the building later next year.

Curtis says they already have funds set aside for the move but will be launching a fundraising campaign for the overall renovation project.

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