With 3,300 more square feet of instructional space soon to be in use, the Infinity Visual and Performing Arts program is ready to expand its lessons to the entire community.
Shane Hawkins, the program's director, says the program plans to offer a full schedule of lessons for adults by January. Established in 1998, until now the program has focused its efforts on students under the age of 21.
''We've always been asked if we gave adult lessons, and we always stayed focused on youth,'' Ms. Hawkins said. ''But youth are in school all day, so we have the facility here not being used - since we're paying rent anyway, we might as well use it if we can.''
Murals by local artists, such as this one by Wes Bossman, cover the walls at the Infinity Visual and Performing Arts program. About 3,300 more square feet of walls will be painted now that the program has taken over the adjacent space on East Third Street formerly inhabited by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
While the Infinity program does work with Jamestown High School students during the day twice a week, Ms. Hawkins said, it is otherwise dormant until afterschool hours. Offering adult classes during the day would change that, though the director said the classes may not be limited to those hours.
''A lot of adults are calling in wanting daytime classes, whether they're retired, stay-at-home moms whose kids are in school, whatever they might be,'' Ms. Hawkins said. ''There is a population of adults available during the day, but we're having almost as many calls that say they want to take lessons but only can come in at night or on the weekends.''
Infinity has options for when to schedule its new adult classes, Ms. Hawkins said, because of 3,300 feet of new space the program will be opening in coming weeks. The former Blue Cross Blue Shield building next door to the Infinity space at 115 E. Third St. became vacant earlier this year, and the program signed a lease to acquire the property from the city in September.
''Even now, because we haven't started using this space, we have students taking lessons in every single room in this facility.''
Infinity Visual and Performing Arts program director
Thanks to a grant from the Gebbie Foundation, construction has been done to transform the two spaces into a single large one. Final renovations are currently being done, Ms. Hawkins said, in preparation for a Dec. 3 open house.
''We were running out of space,'' she said of how the program has been operating under its current 5,000-square-foot roof, with a record number of students enrolled. ''We're having trouble scheduling - the volume of the band sometimes impacts the quieter lessons like voice and art lessons.''
The new space includes a larger room for students to wait for their parents to pick them up after lessons, a consignment store for local artists to sell their work, a steel drum practice room with insulated walls to control sound, an open space for art lessons, several private lesson rooms, and storage space which Ms. Hawkins said the program desperately needed.
Ms. Hawkins said that having more room for students to move around will give the program a much less crowded feeling for students and instructors alike.
''Even now, because we haven't started using this space, we have students taking lessons in every single room in this facility,'' she said. ''Lessons are usually on the half hour, and when the time switch comes, it's a little chaotic - the halls are so full with kids walking back and forth.''
The director said that when adult classes begin, scheduling will become even more important, as the program will make sure that youth classes and adult classes remain separate. She said that she is excited for the opportunity to tap into more of the creativity and talent that exists in the community, which can be extracted by offering lessons to those over the age of 21.
''We tap into it with the instructors of course, but there are other people who may be creative but haven't been able to explore it - whether it's jobs or kids who have always taken up their time,'' Ms. Hawkins said. ''Now they're in a position where they have some free time available and want to see what they can develop, and it's hard to find lessons that are available for them.''
The Infinity Visual and Performing Arts program will offer an open house during and after the Downtown Jamestown Parade and Holiday Celebration on Friday, Dec. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m., during which the community can both see the space and learn more about the programming Infinity offers.
For more information about adult lessons at Infinity, visit its website at www.infinityperformingarts.org or call 664-0991.