The Creative Center: Greensboro’s Best-Kept Arts SecretMar 5th, 2012 | By Tina | Category: Sights
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.