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Revitalizing a Neglected Structure: Transforming an Abandoned Schoolhouse into an Artistic Hub

Verona, Wisconsin (WKOW) – An empty school building in Verona is on the brink of a significant transformation into a diverse center for creativity.

The quiet corridors of a former elementary school will soon be filled with the vibrant sounds of artistic expression, all thanks to the shared vision of four friends united by their passion for the arts and commitment to their community.

“It all started with the four of us brainstorming around the kitchen table, envisioning how we could collaborate,” shared Jessica Lanius, from Theatre LILA and a Co-Founder of Art House 360.

Their collective aspiration is to repurpose the space into a vibrant hub where artists can flourish, educators can ignite inspiration, and organizations can thrive.

“The layout aligns perfectly with our vision, and the affordability is a bonus,” remarked Karisa Johnson, from Slate Blue Studios and a Co-Founder of Art House 360.

The upcoming venue will cater to a myriad of artistic pursuits, ranging from dance to visual arts, theater, and beyond. The founders are eager to forge new partnerships with local businesses and resources to cater to a diverse demographic spanning various age groups and cultural backgrounds.

“Our offerings will encompass a wide spectrum, including various dance forms, visual arts, theater, and acting classes,” Lanius elaborated.

With funding secured from Dane County and the city of Verona, the construction is progressing swiftly.

“Art is an area that often lacks the necessary investment in our city and state,” noted Monica Cliff, of Inventiva Works and a Co-Founder of Art House 360.

Cliff revealed that the concept of expanding spaces and opportunities for artists germinated during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic when many avenues for artists were curtailed.

Once finalized, Art House 360 is poised to become a distinctive regional attraction, fostering cross-cultural collaborations and serving as a vital platform for artistic expression.

“Verona currently lacks dedicated community centers or art spaces, making this initiative a valuable addition,” remarked Verona Mayor Luke Diaz.

Situated in the heart of Verona and conveniently proximate to major cities like Madison, the school’s location is complemented by the city’s plans to develop a neighboring park with a stage, enhancing the range of activities that Art House 360 can offer.

Chad Kemp, a Dane County Supervisor and a former student of the school, expressed his enthusiasm for the redevelopment efforts.

“It’s truly gratifying to witness this transformation. Art House 360’s revitalization of the space for community enrichment is commendable,” Kemp enthused.

However, what truly excites the organizers is the prospect of inspiring the upcoming generation of artists.

“Our primary excitement stems from the prospect of providing youth, teenagers, and children with the opportunity to engage with the space we are crafting,” shared AJ Juarez of Barrio Dance, also a Co-Founder of Art House 360.