CAMDEN, NJ — Whether you’re an amateur painter, an aspiring podcast host or a young actor who wants to take a crack at directing. There’s no longer a need to search for a place to get the creative juices flowing. 

The IDEA Center for the Arts in Camden is now open, providing not only the tools to reach your mission but somewhere to call home.

Cynthia Primas, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA), has been serving local youth for over two decades. 

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On Thursday morning, all those years culminated in perhaps the biggest step of her career when she cut the ribbon to her new creative hub on Market Street.

“Even in this pandemic, this very act of supporting and helping small organizations and businesses like IDEA shows hope for our community, and it signifies community sustainability and a better quality of life for our citizens,” said Primas.

The arts education and creative learning organization, which began in the mid-1990s, operated without a home for years before The Michaels Organizations stepped in recently to purchase a new center. 

The sleek new hub - exposed brick and bright paintings hanging on the walls - comprises an open space-multi purpose art room, a mini-computer lab, an art gallery, a graphic design studio, a reception area, a gift shop and a media studio made possible by funds from Subaru.

“Everyone knows I've been around for 25 years and I've never given up,” Primas continued. “Our purpose has not changed during these uncertain times. If anything it has given us more determination. We're here to help our youth pursue their dreams, find their purpose, and become self-empowered to help create better lives for themselves and their community. And we are here to say that the arts are needed now more than ever.”

Thursday’s ribbon-cutting included performances from Snacktime Brass Band, as well as singer Joanna Gardner with Suzette Ortiz on the keys. 

The arts center, which had to postpone its opening due to the pandemic, will provide opportunities for open mics, small events and trainings held onsite like radio broadcasting, music production, video editing and more. To learn about classes in, among other subjects, drama and visual arts click here.

“No matter what you may be going through, if you [sit] back and you're either in a kitchen cooking...or you're listening to some music, or you're composing music, or you're drawing, it takes you away from what's going on around us,” said Mayor Frank Moran while congratulating Primas on her center. “It gives you the peace of mind that every child in this city deserves.” 

The center, at 217 Market St. in downtown Camden, will host “Jazz on Market Street” every first Sunday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. starting Oct. 4, “IDEA Reel 2 Real Film Series” (for a peek at some of the best independent films made by local directors) every fourth Sunday starting Oct. 25 at 3 p.m., and a poetry series every third Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. starting Oct. 16.

Next door the IDEA Center will partner with other organizations as part of a Creative Cooperative. Creatives on Campus (the space will have its own grand opening Oct. 7) is currently run by program manager Brittanie Thomas.

“We’ll bring in different entrepreneurs, brand leaders, artists, students, and other creatives into the space for the day,” Thomas told TAPinto Camden during a tour. “I want this to spark the ability for people to convert an idea into a solution. Not just that, but also to see how they work as a collective. So we have people who sew, make garments...we also have people who design. I'm personally a singer. So it’s really also about coming together and bringing more out of each other.”

Also in attendance Thursday was Cooper’s Ferry Partnership CEO Kris Kolluri, Liz Edelen, foundation and philanthropy manager for Subaru of America and John O’Donnell, CEO of The Michaels Organization.

O’Donnell called the center one of many pieces that make it possible for Camden to continue to rise.

“You're giving kids a choice, giving them hope, giving them something to strive for better tomorrows,” he said.

To learn more about the center, future events, classes and opportunities to participate visit www.ideacfta.org/home.

Check out the 22-photo gallery above.

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