The expansion is the center’s third since its opening in 2001
PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles Youth Arts Center (PRYAC) is preparing for a new expansion at 3201 Spring Street.
The new expansion will be the center’s third since its opening in 2001. The current building features classrooms, meeting rooms, a full kitchen, and a 200-seat auditorium with a theatrical stage, lighting, and sound.
In 2018, the Youth Arts acquired the property adjacent to the current 10,000-square-feet facility with the goal of serving more local youth through arts enrichment. The new wing is slated to add another 7,000 square feet, making the Youth Arts one of the state’s largest free arts campuses.
An old home on the new lot was cleared, and a Steering Committee got to work creating plans for the new space. Philanthropist Donna Berg founded PRYAC in 1998, launching the program in local schools and recreation centers while waiting for the facility to be complete. The center’s programs offer approximately 50 weekly classes in the areas of art, dance, music, theatre, and creative enrichment.
To accompany its new expansion, PRYAC went through a rebranding in 2021, adding more color each to represent the various enrichments offered.
Classes are free, serving nearly 700 children ages 5 to 18 yearly. Classes offered are anything from the piano, culinary arts, urban dance, ballet, acting, and more.
The expanded Youth Arts Center will include an art gallery to display guest artists’ and students’ work. New classes such as ceramics are coming to the high-tech art room, named after Youth Arts Instructor Danielle Valenzuela.
Spaces are being created for Graphic Design, Video, Editing, Culinary Arts, Prop Building, Costuming, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) classes that will offer students new pathways to many careers. An expanded music program and classroom with space for a larger collection of musical instruments and a recording studio for songwriters is slated for the second floor. Rehearsal spaces for individual musicians and groups are also in the plans. Two dance studios with hardwood floors and plenty of mirrors, student services offices and much more is coming soon.
PRYAC relies on community support from grants, scholarships, donations, supplies, and equipment. To complete the project, PRYAC needed an estimated $3.8 million. In June 2019, the center launched the PRYAC Expansion Capital Campaign at Pear Valley Vineyards, owned by Tom and Kathleen Maas. The Maases led the campaign alongside Doug and Nancy Beckett, owners of Peachy Canyon Winery.
Tom, who passed away later that year, and his wife Kathleen Maas, were also instrumental in the new Boys & Girls Club facility in Paso Robles.
The expansion project will allow the center to serve twice as many students, something much needed with their waiting list. The center serves students in San Luis Obispo County, not only Paso Robles students. And many of their students, approximately 85 percent, come from the lower-income neighborhoods where the center is located.
Following Tom’s passing, the expansion team raised $1.4 million in cash and pledges in the first year and went public with the campaign just a week before COVID-19 hit. PRYAC is continuing its efforts to raise the remaining $2.4 million to complete the project.
The center is looking to break ground within the next few years. The City of Paso Robles has waived development fees in support of the community project.
For more information on the Paso Robles Youth Arts Center, visit pryoutharts.org