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August 27, 2020

Creative Hub Worcester getting $500K boost from UMass Memorial

Photo | Courtesy | Creative Hub Worcester | Gensler The main events center at the planned Creative Hub Worcester

UMass Memorial Health Care will announce on Monday a seven-year, $500,000 investment loan to Creative Hub Worcester, a proposed arts and events center at the former Boys Club in the Main South neighborhood.

UMass Memorial's commitment is another step forward for the long-envisioned project, an $8-million, 40,000-square-foot facility slated to include two dance studios and performance space available for rentals, three classrooms, more than a dozen small studios for artists, and a rooftop event space.

Creative Hub Co-founders Stacy Lord and Laura Marotta said in 2018 they were just $850,000 short of reaching their fundraising goal and getting construction started. The partners, both artists, had already secured $4.5 million in tax credits, $1.1 million in financing and $850,000 pledged in private donations. Funding so far has included $94,506 the state offered in 2018 to help with construction, furnishings and equipment and another $1 million that allows the center to host a Guild of St. Agnes child care center.

"We're 100% a community center," Marotta said Thursday of the vision for the facility.

Two women stand together in a rundown building.
Laura Marotta (left) and Stacy Lord, cofounders of Creative Hub Worcester, will take over as co-directors of stART on the Street.

Create Hub was connected with UMass Memorial through Worcester city officials, and the project wouldn't be able to move forward without the health system's commitment, Marotta said. 

"Through our work with them, we learned a lot about how art really does help people from a mental health perspective," Marotta said of UMass Memorial, and a shared belief that such a center can help people live healthier lives by being more active with shared interests and in social environments.

The Creative Hub is also awaiting potential funding from a federal program called New Market Tax Credits. Much of the project's timeline depends on such funding, but Marotta said they're close to construction.

"We're so close to being shovel-ready," she said.

UMass Memorial said Thursday it will make a loan to the project as part of an effort to improve the health and wellbeing of residents through programming, physical space and economic revitalization.

"The Creative Hub Worcester, as a community art space, is a terrific reuse of a historic building with a proud history of serving residents of Worcester, particularly our underserved youth," the health system said in a statement. "The Creative Hub Worcester will continue this tradition and improve the quality of life for so many individuals, while simultaneously enhancing the city’s already vibrant arts community."

An announcement is scheduled for Monday at 9:30 a.m. at 2 Ionic Ave., the site just off Main Street where the center is proposed. The building, which is over a century old, has been vacant for more than a decade.

The former Boys Club building was bought for $1.3 million in 2017 by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston, which is leasing the space to Creative Hub Worcester.

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