“Our vision of creating this very special place has morphed from ideas and architectural renderings to bricks and mortar. This is a very exciting time for us and the community,” said Center Executive Director Amber M. Dixon.
The Center, which will offer a unique mix of after-school arts programs for at-risk urban high school students, as well as health sciences career training for under-employed and unemployed adults, will debut with a mix of art classes in October. BCAT has contracted with Arts Partners for Learning to tap into a deep pool of teaching artists.
Health Sciences career courses in Pharmacy Tech and Medical Coding will also begin once New York State licensing is completed. Recruitment of instructors began in July.
Training will be geared toward employment opportunities at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and throughout the local health care sector.
The Center projects that it will serve over 400 Buffalo high school students and train 200 under-employed or unemployed adults over the next three years.
HHL Architects of Buffalo, the firm which designed the building’s adaptive reuse from a circa 1900 automobile factory to Artspace Buffalo’s work/live lofts in 2007, also designed the new arts/vocational training center.
R & P Oak Hill Development LLC is the $1.3 million build-out’s general contractor.
First announced in January 2011, the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology is modeled after Pittsburgh entrepreneur Bill Strickland’s highly successful Manchester Bidwell Corporation, a two-pronged template which marries the arts and vocational programs to create social change.
The prime movers behind BCAT are The John R. Oishei Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation, which are providing organizational and financial support for the center.
“It is exciting to walk through these doors, to see construction rolling along and to picture the first group of students who will fill the place in the fall. This center will be a significant change agent for our community for many years to come,” Robert D. Gioia, president of The John R. Oishei Foundation.
John Koelmel, President of the BCAT Board also expressed excitement over the progress on the Center.
“From day one I believed in the power of this public-private partnership to positively impact at-risk youth and to creatively address the employment issues in this community. With construction now underway, we have moved a significant step closer to providing unemployed adults and youth with the tools they need to succeed in work and in life,” Mr. Koelmel said.
The Oishei Foundation and First Niagara Financial Group were joined by the Empire State Development Corporation and Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to establish the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology. To date, they have committed more than $4 million in public-private seed money earmarked for design and build-out of vacant commercial space to accommodate the youth and adult programs.