The Cherry Arts, Inc. is an Ithaca-based organization that strives to provide space for and access to the arts for the Ithaca community. Until now, that space has come in the form of the Cherry Artspace, a venue for “multidisciplinary arts and performance.” In the four years since the Cherry Artspace has been open, performance art has been at the forefront of the organization’s focus, as The Cherry has hosted a variety of productions from around the world, often ones that audiences couldn’t see anywhere else in the country.
While the current facility will remain open and hosting performances, the local organization is working on opening the Ithaca Arthaus, which will feature two new spaces for community arts: the Cherry Gallery, which can serve as a display space for pieces of visual art created by Ithacans, which can be used as a rehearsal space.
I had the opportunity to visit the new community spaces at the Arthaus and speak with Sam, the Artistic Director, about the upcoming facility. The gallery was certainly spacious, with unique lighting that is well-suited to complement different works of art as well as ample natural light coming in from the large windows. Camilla Studio also seemed to be a fitting rehearsal space, and both areas had a very open and welcoming vibe about them.
Serving the community is certainly the main goal of The Cherry Arts, especially through this new facility. Not only are the Arthaus’s structure and function specified to the community’s needs, but increasing accessibility to the arts is a focus as well. Vecino, the company that developed the Arthaus, hosted charrettes in the Cherry Artspace, allowing Ithacans interested in the arts to provide their input on what types of spaces were most needed by the arts community.
In addition to the gallery and studio, the Arthaus also includes affordable housing in the form of 124 housing units, 40 of which are dedicated to people ages 18-25 who are coming out of being unhoused. “That’s an extraordinary connection that this developer, Vecino, has forged between artistic spaces and creation and lower income families,” Sam says, “Like basically as arts makers and presenters we always struggle with perception of elitism, we always struggle to make connections to a wider diversity of audiences. So this to me is a really amazing opportunity to connect the work directly to a bunch of people who have historically had less access, felt less welcomed, felt less part of an artmaking scene in their communities, so that’s really exciting to us.”
Cornell students looking to engage more with the Ithaca community can certainly do so by attending events hosted by the Cherry Arts. Currently, the Cherry Artspace continues to serve as a venue for theatre productions, and in the future, the Arthaus will offer events that will allow students to explore the community art scene in Ithaca. “I do think that the average Cornellian would find the performance work of the Cherry Arts to be really stimulating and exciting, and I expect and hope that when we start launching visual arts shows at the gallery, they will be similarly exciting,” Sam mentioned.
From what I’ve seen, the new space looks lovely, and clearly has lots of potential. I’m sure the Ithaca Arthaus will be a welcome addition to the Ithaca arts community, and to the city in general. Students interested in learning more about events hosted by The Cherry Arts can visit thecherry.org.
Aditi Hukerikar is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].