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Father Ryan Arts Center Lobby and Staff by Christopher Rolinson

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Christopher Rolinson Christopher Rolinson
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Dec 28, 2009
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Dec 28, 2009
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GigapanMagazine.org Will open in a new tab or window vol 2 issue 1

Since July 2007, Patricia J. Moran, has transitioned to her new role as di­rector of the Father Ryan Arts Center after spending four years as the di­rector of the Point Park University’s Community Outreach Partnership Center, a HUD grant awarded to the university in partnership with Focus On Renewal. Because of her exten­sive visual and creative arts experience and proven track record in business, education and community develop­ment, Ms. Moran is a skilled leader and manager who brings a highly developed sense of organization and creativity to her position by guiding the renovation process, generating financial support and establishing a comprehensive arts curriculum. Ms. Moran spent more than 25 years in the field of visual arts and design, working throughout the Pittsburgh area in a variety of positions, in­cluding creative director, graphic designer, arts consultant and educa­tor. A native of McKees Rocks, and a strong advocate of its surrounding neighborhood, she served as lead cre­ative consultant to the Tobacco-Free Allegheny MAP program (Music & Art as Prevention) at FOR and as a teacher in the Sto-Rox High School.

In October 2008, the Father Ryan Arts Center made its debut in McKees Rocks welcoming thousands of people during the grand opening celebration after a decade of planning. In its first year, the arts center offered a diverse array of programs from musical and theatrical performances to workshops and seminars, and art exhibitions to arts education and we plan to keep the tradition alive well into the future. Education and outreach are vital components of our mission to help individuals and families express ideas, share local traditions and grow culturally. The Father Ryan Arts Center strives to use various art forms to educate students of all disciplines and grade levels.

The staff and artist-educators work together with teachers and group coordinators to develop illuminating classes and workshops for students of all ages throughout the year. The center welcomes school groups, senior center groups, community groups and homeschoolers.

The cultural arts center in McKees Rocks is named for Father Regis Ryan, executive director of Focus On Renewal for 36 of the organization's 40-year history. During the planning stages of the arts center, committee members thought it would be a fitting tribute to Father Ryan for his tireless efforts to provide another way to enrich the lives of community members throughout the borough of McKees Rocks and the region.

For more than three decades, Father Ryan has served the residents of McKees Rocks and Stowe Township by building the most comprehensive human service agency in Pennsylvania - Focus On Renewal (F.O.R.). Personally reaching out to community members and responding to their needs through new and innovative initiatives, Father Ryan’s dedication and compassion to help those in need has provided a source of comfort, pride and trust that is the hallmark of the organization he helped to create.

Since 1969, Focus On Renewal has worked to improve the lives of thousands of low-income residents in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township by providing comprehensive health and human services. It is with great joy that FOR introduced another way of enriching the lives of people in Sto-Rox and around the region through arts education and appreciation with the Father Ryan Arts Center. The multi-million dollar center is the newest and most ambitious project undertaken by Focus On Renewal.

The Father Ryan Arts Center has its origins in the 1994 Allegheny County Sanders Consent Decree, which sought to address de facto discrimination in public housing throughout Allegheny County. FOR was asked to build or renovate an existing building into a community arts center. FOR purchased and renovated a former furniture store - now the home of the Father Ryan Arts Center.

The Father Ryan Arts Center features 26,000 sq. feet of contemporary art space with soaring ceilings, tile and hardwood floors, and abundant natural lighting. You are invited to explore the wonderful possibilities that combine creative energy and imagination - from a mix-and-mingle cocktail reception to a sit-down catered dinner, your guests will be immersed in an atmosphere wonderfully connected to the arts that is sure to make a lasting impression. The Father Ryan Arts Center was designed as a multi-purpose facility suitable for a variety of uses from live performances, classes and workshops to business, civic and social occasions. The former furniture store at 420 Chartiers Avenue had notable structural qualities that the architect, John E. Baverso, admired and wanted to maintain or restore, such as the building’s square shape, four windows and weaved-brick motif. Other exterior features include a glass curtain wall, and a gated courtyard, which once completed will mark an inviting entry to the theater. First floor amenities include a 125-seat theater with a unique retractable feature for flexibility, contemporary gallery space to showcase works of art and a charming indoor café offering modern amenities and comfortable seating perfect for small parties or special occasions. Mezzanine area includes four administrative offices, teachers’ work space and conference room. The second floor has two professional dance studios, two musical rehearsal studios, music recording studio, and four one-on-one music education rooms. The third floor features three art studios, two multipurpose classrooms, and a computer graphics lab. The lower level houses the sculpture and pottery studios, children’s art studio, plenty of storage and a commercial kitchen. The facility has eight rest rooms with two on every level except the mezzanine. All levels are fully accessible for individuals with disabilities.


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