RAHWAY – The city will continue to develop and expand its arts district in 2010, according to plans unveiled by Mayor James Kennedy during his State of the City address last week.
“Rahway is positioning itself to take full advantage of the visual and performing arts that will provide long-term employment and economic development as well as sustain an enviable quality-of-life that will benefit all of our residents and visitors,” the mayor said. “Laying the groundwork for a sustainable arts industry in Rahway will be our own ‘economic stimulus plan.’”
According to Kennedy, the arts sector is a $1.5 billion industry in the state supporting 17,000 businesses and 80,000 people.
“Over 50,000 professional artists call the Garden State home and it is estimated that our nonprofit arts industry will produce over 10,000 public events and draw audiences of over 18 million people. Those patrons will spend more than twice the cost of their tickets in the local economy. The arts make good business sense and artists are powerful creative capital,” he said.
A 200-seat outdoor amphitheater is coming to the site of the former Hamilton Laundry on Hamilton Street, according to the mayor. The adjacent former New Jersey Bell property will offer dance, theater and comedy performance space. A groundbreaking is expected later this year.
Manhattan-based Klavierhaus Piano plans to bring a conservatory to the Union County Performing Arts Center property this year, according to the mayor. The facility would offer recitals, lessons and performances.
According to Kennedy, the property across from the performing arts center that once housed Elizabethtown Gas could become an art school and cooperative gallery. The Rahway Branch YMCA is negotiating to convert three vacant floors into additional workspace for artists.
“Perhaps our slogan for 2010 can be summed up as ‘Rahway: It’s All About the Arts.’ I’m optimistic that the creative economy is one that will provide sustainable, stable, long-term growth for our city and improve our financial bottom line and the health and well-being of our entire community,” Kennedy concluded.
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