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Yarmouth's Firehouse Arts Center gets new look, classes

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Yarmouth's Firehouse Arts Center gets new look, classes

YARMOUTH — The town's arts scene is expected to experience a resurgence with the reopening of the Firehouse Arts Center at Winslow Station.

Starting Jan. 28, the nonprofit arts education center at 20 Center St. will hold its first classes after closing down for a remodeling that began last fall.

"We're all kinds of excited; It's all coming together," artist and arts center board member Mardie Weldon said.

The renovations, which gutted much of the building and added an accessible bathroom, new countertops, a more efficient heating system and, ironically, fixed various fire code issues, are part of the first phase of construction focused on the old firehouse's main floor.

The second phase, which will start in early summer, will add a stairwell and renovate second-floor office space.

"If you want to get in on the ground floor, literally, now's the time," board member and photographer David Leith said.

Leith said the board also plans to renovate the facade of the building and landscape the yard.

The arts center offers classes for children and adults, ranging from jewelry making and furniture building to poetry and cell phone photography.

"This is a good addition to the Yarmouth Community Center, it's just a little different environment," board member Leslie Harmen said. "We'll be offering classes that are little bit out of the box. It's just going to develop on its own."

Class instructors include artists from around the region including comic book writer Rick Parker, poet Tina Smith, painter Sue Hammerland and metalsmith Ann Thompson.

Leith said although there are already classes scheduled, the organization wants to hear suggestions from the community about what classes people would like to see offered.

In the same vein, the board established a youth advisory board to help develop programming and classes attractive to young people.

The arts center opened in spring 2011, with a five-year lease. After retiring as a fire station, the building was previously used to house antique fire equipment and as town storage.

In the future, the arts center is planning to collaborate with other organizations to bring community events to Yarmouth, Weldon said.

"We hope arts organizations will use this as a community channel to collaborate with others in town and develop some comprehensive programs," she said.

The board hopes the center's location between the larger populations of Brunswick and Portland will give people in smaller towns better access to arts without having to travel too far outside their communities.

In addition to classes, the arts center also offers a venue for artists to display or perform their work.

Class fees range from free to $300. For more information or to sign up for classes visit Firehouseartsme.com.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.