A core mission of the Jackson School of the Arts (JSA) is to provide accessible arts for everyone. Their move to a new facility in Downtown Jackson is making good on that mission. “It’s exciting to be in the new building. We can spread out and have lots of room for bigger class sizes,” said JSA Executive Director Carolyn Moser.
The art school moved into the former Vermeulen’s Furniture building on W. Cortland Street this past fall after the completion of a $3.5 million renovation project. JSA was previously located in the Art 634 complex on N. Mechanic Street. The school provides art, theatre, dance, martial arts and gymnastics classes for school-age kids, along with art and dance programs for adults.Moser says the new space provides more elbow room for classes and has many other benefits. “Parents can also drop off students and enjoy all that Downtown Jackson has to offer like shopping and restaurants,” Moser said. Located next door to the bus transfer center, the new building makes the arts more accessible for families with transportation issues. “The response has been absolutely fabulous. Everyone who comes in loves the new building,” Moser said.
Wanting a larger building that was more centrally located, JSA originally planned on renovating the historic Masonic Temple building on W. Cortland Street. In late 2020, it was determined the Vermeulen’s property next door would better meet their budget and space needs. JSA worked with the City of Jackson to buy the vacant City-owned building. “The City was great to work with in purchasing the property. Everyone was very supportive and made it an easy process,” Moser said.
Class costs are based on individual family income, using low-to-moderate income guidelines from the federal government. “The most our kids pay is $35 a month. We also have scholarships that get the cost all the way down to $12 a month for classes,” Moser said. JSA hopes the new facility can also be used for community events. Moser says they are working on providing a space that includes a rooftop balcony for medium-sized family, corporate and community events. “Money from the events rentals will go to the scholarship fund so our programs remain affordable for local families,” Moser said.