WMCAT Breaks in New Digs

Photo by Renee McCaul
Photo by Renee McCaul

West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT) students got their first chance to view the organization’s new home this past week.

Students were among a select group of community members who were invited to attend a ribbon cutting celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Classes for adults and teens begin Monday, Sept. 10 in the new space. WMCAT offers after-school and summer arts and technology programs to teens. It also offers career training in medical coding, medical billing and pharmacy technician fields to under-employed and unemployed adults.

“At WMCAT, we are intentional about curating community,” said Daniel Williams, WMCAT president and CEO. “This space tells students that ‘you matter,’ that belonging, community and connection are important. It’s a place that inspires creativity and values authenticity. We’re excited to share the new WMCAT with our students, neighbors and community partners.”

WMCAT students in photography studio with teaching artist Dennis Grantz.
WMCAT students in the photography studio with teaching artist Dennis Grantz.

Highlights of the New Space:

  • Increased studio, classroom and collaborative spaces.
  • Seven studios available for creative programming in arts and technology.
    • A recording booth for music and video production
    • A dark room for photography
    • Full-outfitted ceramics studio
    • Specially-designed studios for fiber arts, illustration and creative computing.
  • Four classrooms and one pharmacy lab are available for workforce development programming.
  • An innovative, custom-designed training space that is inspired by Stanford University’s d.school and the IBM Innovation Lab.
  • A town hall and café area to foster community and connections between students, staff and the community.
  • A gallery and teen space to showcase finished projects, and host guest speakers and performers.
WMCAT fashion design studio
WMCAT fashion design studio

The facility is located on Grand Rapids’ West Side, at 614 First St. It’s part of a block of new development that includes the newly opened Bridge Street Market.  At 22,040 square feet, it occupies the entire top floor of a brand new three-story building.

WMCAT sought a new home after outgrowing its former space at 98 East Fulton St. The organization embarked on an $8.5 capital campaign in support of the project. The funds cover the purchase, build-out, an endowment for future maintenance, and campaign costs. WMCAT owns its space within the building.

*Photos by Photo by Renee McCaul

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