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Neighborhood report

Youths' music, art spot to close

The Renaissance Center for the Arts, at 2201 N Florida Ave., will stay active through February.

Published February 3, 2006

After six years of rebuilding and offering art and hope to a struggling neighborhood, founder and executive director Nick Cutro is closing the Renaissance Center for the Arts.

Once a burned-out brick church, the renovated building at 2201 N Florida Ave. opened in December 2004. The idea for the center was born in 1999, when Cutro decided to turn the building into an arts center for local youths from low-income families.

The center's afterschool program taught music and art to 50 students between the ages of 10 and 17. The students came from other afterschool centers, such as the YMCA, Metropolitan Ministries and the Salesian Boys & Girls Club. It also gave visual and performing artists a place to showcase their talents.

The center faced several challenges that led to the closing, including budget cuts and transportation issues. Board members had been trying to find a way to keep it afloat, but "we have done all we can do," Cutro said in a press release.

He's proud of having restored a historical landmark that had been condemned, set on fire and struck by lightning. Cutro, with the help of others, turned it into a place where youths could realize their passion and develop their skills.

The center plans to stay active through February. After that, Cutro hopes to sell the building.

Any corporation, arts-related organization or community investor interested in acquiring the center can call (813) 221-9448.

[Last modified February 2, 2006, 11:27:10]

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