Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristina Burwell.
Cristina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 1984, a group of local artists repurposed a surplussed 1905 elementary school building as an arts center. With a charter, board, and this old town school building, the center began to offer space for dance, music and studio space for visual artists. This wonderful town resource has grown to include a ceramics studio, visual arts classes, theater and performing arts, community events, as well as over nine weeks of vacation programming in which many of the artists and educators have participated.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A smooth road probably isn’t one that leads forward, so of course there have been some struggles along the way. In particular, is caring for an historic building. The non-profit organization that manages the Munroe Center for the Arts follows the model used by most community arts centers in the region of maintaining the building in lieu of high rent. For a 1905 building, maintenance needs can be overwhelming in an effort to keep the structure up-to-date with new codes, make on-going repairs, as well as work to provide physical accessibility of this facility.
Munroe Center for the Arts – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Housed within the Munroe Center for the Arts are five schools in dance, theatre, music and the visual arts. There are 10 working artists who have studio space at the Center which also hosts a gallery for both artists in the building as well as community artists. In addition to this is the free performing arts series, Munroe Saturday Nights, and vacation arts programs for youth. As a home for artists and educators in the arts, the Center is an active part of community-led events like the annual Lexington Patriots’ Day Parade, as well as leadership in town arts initiatives such as ArtWalk which brings together artists, retailers, residents, and visitors.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is defined by making a positive impact. Here at the Munroe Center for the Arts that might be as small as enriching one child’s world and bolstering their self-esteem, or more largely by being the community arts center that helps to make the Town a better place to live and visit. Success is often only noticed by staying observant to subtle markers seen in the joy the arts can bring, or the improvement a student attains over time. Administratively however, success is more measurable by meeting goals that we have set out to do, in particular to build an organization that meets its financial demands in order to provide a home for the arts.
- Address: 1403 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington MA 02420
- Website: http://www.munroecenter.org
- Phone: 781.862.6040
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dance Inn: Cynthia Clayton
Cristina Burwell (purple scarf): Andras Cser