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Meet Laura Marotta and Stacy Lord of Creative Hub Worcester in Worcester

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Marotta and Stacy Lord.

2 Ionic Avenue in Worcester was once a vital community asset. Built by a generous industrialist in 1914, this magnificent, 30,000SF space was once a haven for youth and one of the original 15 Boys Clubs in the US. On any given day, as many as 1800 boys came to this space for activities like boxing, swimming, basketball, and chess, or to study in the Club’s library.

This historic building, desperately in need of rehabilitation, is now preparing for a complete transformation into The Creative Hub Worcester in the next 12 months. The revitalized building will serve emerging and established artists, local at-risk youth, and the community at large as a gathering place for art lovers and audiences of all ages.

Creative Hub Worcester’s mission is to provide affordable and accessible opportunities in the arts for all Worcester-area community members, with a focus on at-risk and underserved youth.

Creative Hub Worcester is an incorporated 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the arts to all community members in Worcester and central Massachusetts. At its helm are its Co-Executive Directors: Laura Marotta and Stacy Lord.

Laura was an elementary art educator in the Worcester public school system, and has written and been awarded several grants from the MCC to fund visiting artists to create large-scale community artworks in the North Shore. Ms. Marotta previously worked at both Diamond Newman Fine Arts as well as Newbury Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts as a fine arts sales consultant. Laura is currently the President of the Massachusetts Art Education Association, and is working full time as Executive Director for Creative Hub Worcester.

Stacy is the co-founder of the hugely successful non-profit arts festival, stART on the Street, and has taught in the Worcester Public Schools for over 15 years. Fourteen years later, she is still fully immersed with stART as Co- Director, allowing for a greater collaboration between the community and her students. Stacy is an active member of the NAEA, having presented over the past several years at the national conventions.

Stacy and Laura met and shared a strong passion for bringing Art to a wider audience. They recognize, through their teaching, that the Arts can provide a crucial outlet for anyone, young or old. They also recognized the need for a unique, multi-purpose space like theirs in the city of Worcester. The city is going through a major revitalization, and one of the keys to sustainable growth is a flourishing arts and cultural district, that includes many different types of organizations and programs. They are excited to be a part of that growth.

This project is a powerful collaboration between the community developer, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston/the Creative Campus initiative and the nonprofit organization Creative Hub Worcester.

Currently, they own the building at 2 Ionic Ave, and they are working to close their capital campaign for renovations by the end of 2018. They have secured both state historic as well as federal historic tax credits, and they are actively pursuing new market tax credits as well. They have also secured several commitments from local foundations, and they are selling naming rights throughout the building to help reach their goal. Creative Hub Worcester, a non-profit 501(c) 3, has been working to create a sustainable business model that will enable the Creative Hub arts center at 2 Ionic Ave to thrive. Their goal of sustainability is addressed in three key ways: 1) by creating programs that respond to identified community needs; 2) through diversified revenue streams; 3) and through long-term lease partnerships with successful and well-established businesses, artists, and institutions that support five main areas of programming:
 Educational Programming
 Artist Studios
 Event Venue
 Dance/Movement Programming
 Maker Space
These program areas were selected to fit the needs of the Worcester community as informed by municipal survey data, interviews, personal tours, and one-on-one conversations with their future users.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think that any road to building a large non-profit is bound to have obstacles. As two teachers, it was not easy to decide to rely on one salary so that I could work full time on the business. We have been pursuing this vision for over two years, and it often takes that long for a business venture to start to come together. Additionally, the idea of a multi-use Arts center and its benefits has not been seen in Worcester before, so we are trying to build something new here in the city, and educate people as to why it is going to be so valuable for our community.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Creative Hub Worcester, Inc story. Tell us more about the business.
I explained the general areas of programming in the previous questions, but what we are most proud of are two things:

1. Our highly sustainable non-profit business model, in which we have carefully selected 5 sources of revenue to help us cover our expenses and leave room for growth. We recognize the importance of maintaining reasonable personnel and operating costs that are tied to revenue. Therefore, as part of our overall expense management plan, we have outsourced many of our staffing, marketing, and front-line management needs to our program tenants who have the demonstrated capacity and experience to provide these services.

2. Our Youth Arts space, which we will be opening next month at 657 Main St. This will be our first area of programming and we will serve Main South and Worcester area students, teaching them drama, dance, music, and visual arts during the summer and after school. The program will build strong community ties and partnerships with local
families, two years before our larger program opens.

We are most proud of the strong team that we have built over the past two years. We have gathered a large variety of key supporters, including the Boston team, our board of 15 dedicated team members, and an advisory board, as well as individuals, companies, and foundations who believe in our project enough to provide us with both financial support and crucial guidance along the way.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I really don’t believe in luck in this instance. Stacy and I have worked incredibly hard to get to where we are at today. There is nothing like being an entrepreneur. I thought that I worked hard when I was a teacher, constantly lesson planning, worrying about my students, writing grants, etc. But when you start your own business, it’s a whole different animal. Your personal life and your job become one entity, and you have to work harder and smarter to maintain that energy and excitement that you create around your project. There are definitely lots of elements that have seemingly come along at the right time for us, but I believe that they’ve come along due to our constant networking, outreach, and making connections with our community.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2 Ionic Ave, Worcester, MA, 01609657 Main St, Worcester, MA, 01609
  • Website: www.creativehubworcester.org
  • Phone: 978-273-1422
  • Email: info@creativehubworcester.org
  • Instagram: creativehubwoo
  • Facebook: creative hub worcester
  • Twitter: creativehubwoo

Image Credit:
Mike Hendrickson
Aviva Luttrell

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