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March 15, 2017
Interview: Arts On Site Founders on Creating a Community for Artists

There are people who wait for the world to give permission to create, and there are some people who create the world. Chelsea Ainsworth, Kyle Netzeband and Adrian Rosas are people who, together with their constantly growing community of artists, create the world around them. At Arts On Site at 12 St. Marks Place in the East Village, these three forces of creativity work constantly to uplift other artists of all disciplines with ongoing classes, Performance Parties, collaborations and gatherings.

Using three sentences, describe Arts On Site.

Kyle Netzeband: Arts On Site, as a non-profit, is dedicated to supporting artists from all forms of expression by offering them an affordable place to practice and hone their work. We also offer a diverse calendar of classes, events and workshops. We are a group of artists celebrating other artists. It's a supportive community that holds a love for the arts. Together we hold space for connection through artistic expression.

How did you three find each other and decide to start Arts On Site?

Chelsea Ainsworth: The three of us found each other through a common mission of using our art to connect to others. Adrian and I met at Juilliard and shared multiple outreach experiences as well as our own endeavors to teach kids about the importance of using art. Kyle and I met in Florida at an arts camp working with middle and high school students.

For about 5 years we ran donation based salons in our living room in Harlem. The house was always packed and the artists were always pre-selected to create a night of affordable and eclectic, high-quality art. Our main mission was to connect all of our specific art communities, dance, theater, music, film, visual art, and opera to encourage collaboration.

One salon had over 80 people shoved in our living room and the owner of 12 Saint Marks Place came to support her daughters singing. With excitement from the experience the owner approached us to use a space (3F) at St Marks for our salons.

After about 5 months of using studio 3F, another studio right above it opened up and we jumped on the opportunity to renovate both spaces and start what is now Arts On Site NYC. I would say that none of us imagined starting this incredible venture but that it was driven by our community of artists and presented itself when we needed space.

Currently I am proud to say that we are able to provide artists with the same fortune we were given, space.

Adrian, you’re an opera singer. How does that world differ from the world you’re creating in this East Village happy place?

Adrian Rosas: The world of opera can often be very secluded and lonely at times. Like many art forms, it requires hours, days, weeks, months of solitary work and refinement. Then, after all that work, you leave home for a few weeks to a few months at a time.

At Arts On Site, we’ve built a tight knit community. I love seeing the same faces every week and continuously growing closer to each artist. There is a constantly revolving community, all coming through the same space. I could be at the studio for just a few hours and easily interact with 100 people.

The community is wonderful and constantly growing. I know almost every one of our renters by name and face. This is rare in the studio rental business, and is a part of AOS (Arts On Site) that I would love to maintain.

Chelsea, how do you juggle my time as an arts entrepreneur and as a disciplined dancer?

Chelsea Ainsworth: In many ways, I see Arts On Site as one of my purposes as a dancer, rather than a separate arts entrepreneurship job. I'm proud to offer my dance/arts community affordable space for rehearsal, classes, performances and other events.

I'm also proud to say that I am able to produce shows of my own and rehearse in a space I've helped create! I don't feel I'm juggling my time just constantly choreographing!

Landing this space at 12 St. Marks Place seems like a dream come true. How do you know what to do, when to do it and what needs to be done to keep this venture going?

Kyle Netzeband: The studio at 12 St. Marks Place fell into our laps. It was so surprising of an opportunity that at first we said no because it seemed like too much of a responsibility. However, we quickly realized that these studio spaces would help serve an important part of our
mission in supporting artists.

As soon as we said yes there was a community of artists ready to support us as well. The studios became a community supported space with volunteer artists pitching in to help run the studios. Again, this was a surprise that our community would step up in such a big way and we had no idea that this was going to be how we could sustain a studio rental business.

So, the development of Arts On Site is full of surprises and we're staying open to any opportunity that might come our way. We stay focused on the idea of community knowing that it's the accomplishments of a collective group that can have the greatest impact.

What’s up next at Arts On Site?

Kyle: Arts On Site in collaboration with Alex Biegelson presents "Spring Pairings," which intertwines a unique culinary experience with dance performances. cooking show host, Katie Lynch, and Mixologist for The Smith Ryan Garrison teams up with The Bang Group, LoudHoundMovement, and Bryn Cohn + Artists will present the ‘Flavors of the Spring Season.’

You’ve been granted three wishes. What do you wish for?

Chelsea Ainsworth: To know that long after my time is up, Arts On Site and its mission is alive, thriving and that a community of people call these funky arts spaces home, at an affordable and sustainable rate!

Adrian Rosas: For the government to support of the arts. Not only financially, but giving the arts all the recognition it deserves. With that support, artists would have a sustainable future and a stable career.

Kyle Netzeband: Constant creative inspiration.

Up Next on Arts on Site Calendar:

“Spring Pairings”
March 18th at 7:30pm
12 St. Marks Place, East Village

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Written by: Heather Anne Chamberlain
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