The Arts Based School in Winston-Salem Celebrates Expansion

The Arts Based School in Winston-Salem Celebrates Expansion

8:44pm Sep 19, 2013
Keri Brown

A vacant tobacco warehouse in downtown Winston-Salem has been transformed into a new middle school.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday to mark the opening of a new building and celebrate The Arts Based School's expansion into middle school. The event was punctuated with singing and African drumming performances by students.

The charter school is nestled between the Innovation Quarter and the Arts District in downtown Winston-Salem.

The former tobacco warehouse is now full of bright colored artwork. There is a piazza in the front of the building, which is adorned with floral flats donated by the Piedmont Opera.

The owner of the building, Neal Foster, has been working with local artists to help preserve some of the structure’s history.

“The school already leases a building from me for their elementary school. This project has been a community effort. A lot of people thought the building should be torn down, but we had another vision,” says Foster.

Duncan Lewis of Rural Hall is using what he calls industrial folk art to decorate the school.

“The outer building will have 20 window grills made in that style and there is already a sign over the entry door. Indoors there is a reception desk and the legs are made of recycled industrial and agricultural scrap metal. All of the surrounding buildings still have their old rusty metal fixtures on them, so it is a way to blend in and be more creative,” says Lewis.

The building also houses a new dance studio and science lab. Ben LaFever is in the sixth grade at the Arts Based School. He likes the sky lights and other features in the building, but most of all he likes the extra space. 

“With the new art room and band room, I feel like we are not nearly as limited as before in such a small area because we have this great big building, so now there will be a lot more room for making great big projects and things like that,” says LaFever.

Robin Hollis, the principal at the Arts Based School says, “The new building is helping increase enrollment  from more than 300 students to 510 students next year.” 

The building is also equipped with lots of technology for teaching.

“The other thing is we have this brand new technology. We have an active board, so they get to come up and change the color of the writing, and move objects around. It just makes it that much more exciting,” says Danielle Tarmey, a sixth grade teacher at the school.

Winston-Salem mayor Allen Joines, city council member Derwin Montgomery, who represents the East Ward, parents and other community members also attended the ribbon cutting event on Thursday.

Joines says, “Successful cities of the future will be those cities that embrace a culture of innovation and rapid change. The work that the Arts Based School is doing is giving young people the tools they need to operate in that type of environment.”

School officials say they are planning to launch a capital campaign to help buy new equipment and other items.

Support your
public radio station