Community arts center SALTspace opens on Syracuse’s Westside
Community arts center SALTspace opens on the Westside
SALTspace, a community performing arts center located at 103 Wyoming St., celebrated their grand opening on April 13 with an open house and artist showcase. The center was established by the Near Westside Initiative, a local organization dedicated to helping the community through arts and culture.
SALTspace includes a black box performing space, classrooms and studio space for workshops. The center received funding from New York State Senator John DeFrancisco. According to the Near Westside Initiative Board of Directors, more than 40 residents and artists have joined the Near Westside Initiative’s Arts committee to participate in planning this event.
“Our mission is to work alongside the community to make the Westside neighborhood a better place for all who work, learn, play, and sleep in the neighborhood, and the opening of SALTspace is a reflection of that. There is immense artistic talent in our community,” said President of the Board of Directors, Sheena Solomon, in a press release.
The Executive Director of the Near Westside Initiative, Gregorio Jimenez, was ecstatic about the grand opening of SALTspace. Born and raised in Syracuse’s Westside, Jimenez said that the space will bring light to the community.
“It’s about collaboration and bringing the community together,” he said. “It’s a distraction from the violence on the streets.”
Interim Director Melissa Gardiner, a Westside resident for seven years, said that the space will be accessible and affordable for the community to use.
“It’s amazing to see this finally happen,” she said. “We want to connect artists to resources to become entrepreneurs and consider an art career.”
The open house featured classes for children, performances, and local vendors. Destiny Huntley, the owner of Natural Vibes smoothies, thought that the new center was a beautiful space for children in the neighborhood.
“It’ll motivate their minds and lives and keep them off the streets,” she said.
Zelle Alvarez attended the launch and sold Filipino food, including dumplings and rice. She was excited about the opening of the center.
“It’s a great place for the community to interact and for small businesses to network,” she said.
The artist showcase was from 8 – 10:30 p.m. and included a variety of local performers. Attendees could also visit the bar which served beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres. Although the show began with empty seats, the theatre filled as the night progressed and the energetic crowd continued to cheer on the performers. There were over 150 people in attendance.
Comedian Corey Smithson hosted the showcase, beginning with some jokes about growing up in Camillus and living in Syracuse.
Performances ranged from dance routines to beatboxing, rap, poetry and singing.
Syracuse Common Councilman Joe Driscoll beatboxed an original song while audience members danced and clapped. Interpretive dancers Sarah Walter and Lynea D’Aprix also participated in the salsa dancing with Roberto Perez. Jasmine Rodriguez performed her poetry, including a poem about the time she was homeless.
A 50/50 raffle raised money for a scholarship fund for children to attend classes at SALTspace.
“Access to these types of opportunities in the arts is really important,” Gardiner said.
Many of the performers thanked the Westside Initiative for opening a community space.
“We can only be grateful to have a space where we can share our dreams and hopes and to know that they can come true,” said singer Queen Jedib.