The Creative Center: Greensboro’s Best-Kept Arts Secret

Mar 5th, 2012 | By | Category: Sights

The Creative Center

There’s a thriving arts community on 900 Sixteenth Street that many people in Greensboro have never heard of called The Creative Center. Originally called The Sanctuary, and then The Greensboro School of Creativity, it was founded in December, 2005 by Chip Bristol. Bristol’s goal was to provide a place of safety for people, and to build a community that allowed people to live authentically, flourish creatively, and thrive spiritually. The Sanctuary had another location for a while, but moved back to its original location on Sixteenth Street in January 2011 and began offering studio spaces for artists as well as classes. This increased space allowed the arts and wellness curriculum to grow as well. Although the name changed, the mission and purpose have not. Today The Creative Center has a diverse community of artists, teachers and healers who seek to enrich the lives of others through creativity, spirituality, wellness, and rediscovery.

The Creative Center just hired a new executive director, Susan Sassman, one of the founding members of the Women’s Resource Center and the creator of the highly successful annual Summer Solstice event in the Greensboro Arboretum. Sassman says, “The Creative Center is a beacon of light in a very tumultuous time. Greensboro claims a significant number of artists, performers and creative thinkers, but many of them are under the radar, waiting to shine.” With over 60 artists, teachers, and service providers, many of whom rent studio space at The Creative Center, Sassman says she hopes The Creative Center will evolve from its current status as “Greensboro’s best-kept arts secret.”

The Creative Center’s staff also includes Iris Carter who serves as Director of The Film Institute. Carter is also head of Greensboro’s prestigious 48-Hour Film Project. She speaks of her involvement with The Creative Center: “Through connections in the 48-Hour Film Project, I learned more about The Creative Center – I had heard of The Sanctuary, its precursor, so all of that fell into place and I was hired to be the “community coordinator.” The Triad Indie Film Network was meeting here and interested in having studio space for teaching and working, however they are all volunteers and busy with their own careers. My interest had me wanting to see a film program succeed at The Creative Center. With the transition of our new Executive Director coming on board, it opened up a way for me to create the Film Institute and coordinate the programs and talents to make this a viable operation.” An ongoing film series on Monday nights entitled “Laughter in the Dark” takes place each Monday at 7 PM, and a new film series on the first and third Wednesday evening of each month will feature a rotation of documentary films and cult/independent/international/obscure films. Carter also hosts a Women’s Film Night on the second and fourth Sunday of the month in The Creative Center’s state-of-the-art screening room with a 120″ high definition screen with surround sound and Blu-ray capabilities.

But what do some of the people who actually rent space within The Creative Center say? Michael Gagliano, an occupational therapist and wellness provider, says, “I had never even heard of The Creative Center nor was I actively looking for a place to grow my practice until a chance visit there in March of 2011. However, I soon discovered a place where people were living their dreams and passions. A place that exuded acceptance of that search for completeness. I fell in love with that feeling and decided immediately to relocate and grow my occupational therapy practice there.”

BethAnn Russell is a resident artist at The Creative Center, creating mainly oil paintings and dabbling in acrylic, mixed media, jewelry-making, graphic design, drawing and photography. She opened Vandalism Studios (www.vandalismstudios.com) at the Creative Center in February, 2011. BethAnn said, “The Creative Center has quite honestly been one of the best experiences of my life. It has brought me personally to a place in my life that I could only dream of prior to coming here. My fellow residents and members are each kind, positive, and as uniquely vibrant as their purpose here. At the creative center, there is an amazing sense of community. here; I have found my niche and I couldn’t be happier.”

The Creative Center is full of activities day and night: visual art classes, movement and yoga, wellness providers including massage therapy, a monthly Open Mike night which recently was standing room only, several film series, music appreciation and more. Special events too – a Halloween fund-raiser drew a big crowd, as did a Holiday Open House, and there’s an upcoming Earth Day Green Living Arts Festival on April 22. A new computer lab has been established and Photoshop classes are in the works. For a complete listing of classes and activities, visit www.thecreativecenter.net.

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One Comment to “The Creative Center: Greensboro’s Best-Kept Arts Secret”

  1. Linda Rugh says:

    I had to comment on The Creative Center. For years I have always joked and said I was Greensboro biggest want-to-be artust, visiting many galleries and drooling over the obvious river of visual artists! I was so jealous! I wanted to be able to present the images I had in my head all my my adult life for others to see but didn't know how. Going to a reception at The Creative Center last fall and again drooling over the beautiful art, I met Margot Robinson who teaches Painting from your Imagination. A friend encouraged me to take her class and it was the best decision I ever made. Her class brought out the creative "juices" and they have been flowing ever since. From there I took a class with Dawn Ashby and presently with Tracey Marshall and with their instruction I have not been able to stop painting. I am near retirement and I was dreading it but now when it is time, I know my desire to show everyone what I see will be put on a canvas and paper to share with those who show the same interest. Hopefully my work will also influence others to also take the step and fullfill thier same interests. My next step there, drawing classes with Steve Stone to help better my paintings! Last but not least, The Film Institute! How I enjoy this! Not only to see all the old classics but also to hear the desire and evaluation of others after watching the films. To watch them on their large screen isn't the same as viewing them at home, even if you can find them. I am going to watch their scheduling for other avenues of films in the future. There are others on their schedule to pick I haven't seen yet but hope too soon! Quite a credit to our community no matter what your artistist desires may be. I would highly recommend The Creative Center to anyone desiring any avenue of the arts.

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