Water Street Studios celebrates its 10th anniversary this September, marking a decade that has fueled the careers of thousands of artists and enlightened, entertained and educated hundreds of thousands of people throughout the area.
It all began as a shared vision of a group of interested community members, talented artists, a generous property owner and the City of Batavia in 2007. This vision turned into a plan a year later when the Batavia Artists Association (BAA) and Water Street Studios was founded, construction within an historic Batavia building began and then opened to the public in 2009.
“The beauty of Water Street Studios is how it is truly a community-driven cultural organization, says co-founder, Joi Austin (Cuartero). “Helping to create the organization gave me a life experience where I found my career path and I made lifelong friends. Water Street literally shaped my life, professionally and personally.”
Austin Dempsey, President of Batavia Enterprises Inc., and a foundational supporter of the organization, calls Water Street an, “amazing cultural asset.”
“This organization empowers artists to achieve higher levels of success and engagement by providing resources and a facility that inspires creative endeavors,” he says. “The education of the next generation of American artists is vitally important to a well-rounded society and Water Street Studios is at the front line of making sure that art and personal expression are supported and encouraged in our community.”
Today, Water Street Studios provides the region with art classes, artist studios, gallery exhibitions, free programs for under-resourced families and schools, events in our historic venue, and more.
In 2016, Water Street Studios launched their STEAM program, “Ripple Effect,” to serve third through fifth graders in the community by integrating the arts into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning. The program is generously support by the Dunham Fund.
“It transforms STEM learning into STEAM learning by integrating the arts into the academic curriculum, making the arts accessible to students across the Fox Valley area,” Lindsay Cochrane, Program Director at the Dunham Fund, says.
To commemorate its 10th Anniversary and celebrate its community-focused mission, Water Street Studios is pairing 10 local nonprofits with 10 artists in the community who will create murals for each nonprofit. These murals will be displayed in the alley leading up to the entrance of Water Street’s building. This project, called “Activate the Alley” is generously funded by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.
Additionally, Water Street is hosting a 10-year anniversary celebration at 6 p.m. September 13. The night will feature a silent art auction, special guests, a cash bar, open artist studios, a new art exhibition featuring artist members and invited artists, and more. This event is free, open to the public, and for all ages.
As the organization prepares to celebrate its last 10 years, it is also looking into the future to envision what greater things can be built on its foundation of collaboration over competition, using the arts to connect people to something bigger than themselves.
“My hope is that Water Street Studios continues to thrive and grow by serving the needs of our community through the arts, Current Board President Jessica Breugelmans shares. “I’m thrilled by the many pARTnerships formed in support of our mission with pARTners like, The Holmstad, Aurora and Batavia Public School Districts, Kane County Jail, and others.”
Christine McFadden, a former Vice President of Water Street’s Board of Directors, says. “When you support Water Street, you support others… and in the end, isn’t that why we’re all here?”