CAMDEN, NJ — When the Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA) saw their rent raised to $4,000 in March 2016 at the old South Jersey Performing Arts Center, it’s founder couldn’t help feel disheartened.

After eight years there, IDEA — an arts education and creative learning organization that serves the youth — packed its bags.

“It was a lot of money and as a nonprofit, we couldn’t afford it,” Executive Director and Founder Cynthia Primas told TAPinto Camden. “An organization like ours requires a creative space… a center that’s going to be conducive to the needs of creative endeavors. Whether that’s a theater or a just a space to store equipment.”

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Primas said that for the next three years or so, IDEA made due -- partnering with local high schools and colleges to hold events, and taking their equipment on-the-go.

“It wasn’t like the phone stopped ringing,” Primas said. “And there were some kids and artists I spoke to [that] I knew needed a space to be creative. ‘Just wait, and we’ll have something soon’ I would say.”

And the wait is finally over.

The Michaels Organization, a housing developer that relocated its corporate headquarters to Camden last year, recently promised to cover the build out of a new arts center and studio for the organization in the downtown sector of the South Jersey city.

The new 1,800-square foot space, which will be located at 217 Market St. is slated to open this summer. The center will include an open space-multi purpose art room, an art gallery, a graphic design studio, a reception area, and a gift shop.

Primas said the timing couldn’t be better, as IDEA PAC celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

“This is really at the core of what we want to do as a company, to help the city rise,” said Nicholas Cangelosi, vice president of development at the Michaels Organization. “Mayor [Frank] Moran always talks about inclusive prosperity. The idea of helping to bring a state-of-the-art program to downtown Camden feels to us like a game-changer for families and dovetails with the prospering community.”

New Media Lab

IDEA PAC maintained its core offerings even after it began squatting at various locations in 2016.

That includes a program to develop education in the arts — the institute’s earliest incarnation. The center's programs have been available at Camden County College, the Governor James J. Florio Center for Public Service (formerly the Waterfront Technology Center and Rowan University.

For years IDEA also touted a Center for the Arts, which has presented live shows such as a jazz concerts and open mics.

Primas was happy to announce that the opening of the new center also means the introduction of multimedia options. The new space will be retrofitted with a stage for performances, a production studio and a control room.

“This will be an opportunity to teach sound and music engineering, as well as TV production,” she said.

Subaru granted IDEA PAC $90,000 last March to purchase equipment for a media studio.

Currently, the vacant center is being fixed up with flooring, lighting, drywall and insulation, as well as plumbing -- work of which is expected to be completed by March.

Neither party would disclose the dollar amount for the build-out, but Primas said merely the materials for the initial set-up, including electrical and flooring, has added up to $7,000.