“Arts are a community necessity,” says Trinity Academy of the Performing Arts Head of School Liz Richards-Hegnauer. “We are committed to being a true community space for artmaking.”
In late November, the arts-integrated public charter school cut the ribbon on its new home in the former Cherry & Webb building downtown, TAPA’s fourth move in 10 years – none by choice. It was founded in 2010, serving 34 seventh-grade students in the Trinity United Methodist Church building in South Providence. After two more stints as a tenant, the school now owns 275 Westminster Street and has big plans.
“It is bold to move buildings in November of a school year, but it was 100 percent the correct move,” says Assistant Head of School Andy MacMannis. “Our students and alumni deserve a permanent school building that can be their second home.”
The move will not only benefit TAPA’s 220 students, grades seven through 12; the vision is an arts hub for the whole community. “We will provide classes, programming, and performance and rehearsal space for use by community groups for low or no cost,” says Richards-Hegnauer.
For example, over the winter TAPA will partner with FirstWorks to host statewide, arts-integrated professional development for teachers and with RISCA to provide a venue for the GiveMe5 Student Film Lab. And TAPA students, who already help organize PRONK, the annual street band festival, and programming for PVDFest, will now have facilities and resources to enhance their community impact. “I see TAPA as a central place for the artistic community as a whole: a place for artists to work directly with students on projects that benefit the city,” says MacMannis.
“The arts are the third biggest economic driver in Rhode Island, and yet are still not looked at as being a career path,” explains Richards-Hegnauer. “We are working to ensure that people see what our students do as not only being culturally impactful, but also economically impactful. I believe that 2020 will be the year TAPA students are truly recognized as the stars that they are.”