LANCASTER – Local musicians, actors, painters and poets now have a place to hone and showcase their talents – right on The BLVD! Wednesday marked the grand opening of The BLVD’s Renaissance Center. Dubbed “AV’s Art Hub on the BLVD,” the center offers a variety of visual and performing arts classes for all ages.
“The Renaissance Center is an aspiring artist’s paradise,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a city news release. “They offer workshops and classes, while providing a venue for artists to showcase their skills.”
The founders, John and Nicolle Irving, began by hosting a small group of poets, actors, singers and dancers in their home. Over time, the group’s performing art rehearsals became community performances, and they were inspired to open a venue on The Blvd.
“People can expect new works, local artists coming together to put on shows, good classes and instruction,” said Nicolle Irving, a singer and painter. “They can expect to be trained in a range of art, everything from vocal to painting and acting.”
“It’s a place where I can inspire artists and be inspired by artists, a place where art and creativity can take place in Lancaster,” said John Irving, an actor and pastor.
John Irving taught Special Education at Challenger Probation Camp for seven years, educating at-risk youth. He said the experience helped inspire him to create the new venue.
“One thing about inner city youth that are incarcerated is that there is a lot of talent,” said John Irving. “I began a lot of programs in probation camps to hone their talents and get their minds off doing negative things. That experience inspired me to create something where youths could hone their skills and express themselves in a positive way.”
The Renaissance Center will feature creative arts classes, live theater, live poetry, improv workshops, an art gallery, a performance hall, apparel and accessories, a recording studio, and rental space for art events.
At Wednesday’s grand opening, Council Member Sandra Johnson, City Manager Mark Bozigian and several other city officials toured the new facility.
“It’s something that the community has needed and I am so excited that it’s on The BLVD,” said Johnson. “What I really appreciate is that it’s a husband and wife, and you can see their passion… both of them have a passion for arts.”
Johnson, who co-owns the University of Antelope Valley with her husband, Marco Johnson, said she is looking forward to establishing a relationship with the Renaissance Center.
“I’m really excited about promoting it at the university,” Johnson said. “There are so many kids over there that are passionate about the arts, and they could come over here to be fulfilled and to think about starting their own company. It’s just very exciting and very rewarding.”
“The City of Lancaster and the SBDC [Small Business Development Center] have been very instrumental in our development,” said John Irving. “We are especially grateful to Scott Ehrlich for believing in our vision and providing an opportunity for us to bring it to fruition. Nicolle and I feel extremely blessed to be young entrepreneurs in Lancaster, and hope to demonstrate to our community’s youth that dreams can become reality.”
The Renaissance Center will host its opening show at 8 p.m., this Friday, May 25. The show will feature a performance by local improvisational comedy troupe The Imps. The following week will mark the center’s first “Friday KNIGHT Live!” on June 1. This open mic event will be held every Friday from 8 to 10 p.m.
Starting June 2, Renaissance Center will offer several classes, including a vocal boot camp, piano lessons, and improvisational acting.
The center is located at 647 West Lancaster Blvd, and will be open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday. Hours may be subject to change during special events. For more information or to enroll in classes, call 661-942-8900 or visit www.renaissancecenter.org.