KeyBank pledges $200,000 to develop new home for The Resource Center’s art program

Photo Caption: Pictured in TRC’s current art room are, from left, Kyle Morgan, Vice President and Wealth Advisor with KeyBank; Susan Gutierrez, TRC’s Art Instructor; Glenn Miller, artist; Courtney Sinatra, KeyBank Relationship Manager; John Vogan, Supervisor for TRC’s Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services; Jessica Harley, Direct Support Professional; and Denise Jones, TRC’s Chief Executive Officer.

People with disabilities will have the opportunity to express themselves through art thanks to KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation.

Officials at The Resource Center announced they have received a $200,000 commitment from KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara. The money will be used to create the Edgewater Art House, which will be the new home of The Resource Center’s award-winning art program for people with disabilities.

“We are thrilled that KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation have provided this generous funding to move us closer to our dream of creating the Edgewater Art House,” said Denise Jones, TRC’s Executive Director. “We are grateful that KeyBank and First Niagara recognize the important role the arts play not only in providing fulfilling lives to people with disabilities, but also in expanding our community’s cultural vibrancy.”

“We at KeyBank are very proud to support the work being done at The Resource Center to provide individuals with disabilities access to multiple art forms that will help foster vital social and emotional skills,” said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the KeyBank and First Niagara Foundations. “The new Edgewater Art House will fill an important need in the Jamestown community for those with diverse skills and abilities by creating opportunities for self-expression and inclusion that will help lead to long-term success in school, work and life.”

The Edgewater Art House will be developed on property The Resource Center owns on Eighth Street in Jamestown, adjacent to TRC’s Edgewater Day Habilitation Program that opened last year. An existing structure will be renovated to create the Edgewater Art House. The facility will offer many opportunities for art classes including painting, drawing, mixed media, and ceramics.  A gallery space will allow those participating in the art classes to showcase their art.

Art has been a hobby and passion of people with disabilities for as long as The Resource Center has existed. When TRC’s first educational classes began in 1959, arts and crafts were key components of daily lesson plans. Art has remained an important facet of The Resource Center over the years, providing people with disabilities the opportunity to express themselves in ways they might not be able to convey with words.

To give more people the opportunity to experience the arts, in 2007 The Resource Center collaborated with area arts organizations and independent artists to offer classes in painting, mixed media, dance/movement, drama, music, and song writing. The results were tremendous and convinced TRC to add a full-time art instructor to its staff. In the ensuing years, works created by people with intellectual disabilities at TRC have been featured exhibits locally and across New York State, and some of the artists have won awards.
The success of its art program led The Resource Center to want to expand the program. But because the program is currently housed within a state-certified facility at 75 Jones & Gifford Avenue, only people enrolled in TRC’s Day Habilitation Program can participate. Since the Edgewater Art House will be a non-certified site, it can be used by people with intellectual disabilities who do not attend TRC’s Day Habilitation Program, as well as by people who participate in TRC’s behavioral health programs.

The Resource Center set a goal of raising $315,000 in order to begin construction of the Edgewater Art House. The commitment from KeyBank and First Niagara, coupled with contributions from The Lenna Foundation, Filling the Gap, Inc., and many private donors from among The Resource Center’s staff and the community, have enabled the capital campaign to reach its target. The Resource Center is working with architects to finalize design plans before seeking bids for the project. Renovation and construction work is expected to begin in late spring.

Besides giving more people with disabilities the opportunity to create art, the Edgewater Art House will benefit the greater Jamestown community. The Edgewater Art House, which will be located along the Chadakoin River across from McCrea Point Park, will aesthetically complement the city’s ongoing waterfront revitalization efforts.