What’s the unofficial NoHo motto? “NoHo is only as great as its people.” Our growing and hardworking arts community has used their creativity to persevere during this past year. Meet The H.E.ART – Heartfelt Education through the ARTs. They operate their nonprofit performing arts academy at their home, The H.E.ART MKM Cultural Arts Center in the center of the NoHo Arts District. They’ve done a lot with the space and many new programs and projects are coming soon!
They manage the operation of a historic facility that boasts three beautiful dance studios, a theatre, a large patio incorporating an outdoor stage, and a private parking lot.
The H.E.ART MKM Cultural Arts Center is available for rent to artists of all disciplines.
Formerly located downtown, they encountered challenges, including parking, traffic, etc.. So, they decided to partner with the owners, Ms. Shirley Martin and Ondra Miller to take over operational responsibilities.
Eartha Robinson, one of the founders of The H.E.ART says, “We always loved the artistic community of NoHo and felt that the bohemian spirit of the area was perfectly aligned with our vision of building a space where artists would feel safe, welcome and creative.”
However, like with all of our eclectic NoHo neighborhood, we have to be creative. As the pandemic hit, back in March of 2020, The H.E.ART MKM Cultural Arts Center had to quickly adapt to the ‘new normal’ and were amongst the first to explore the possibilities of on-line classes through the ZOOM platform, broadcast directly from their theatre.
Martin Hall, the on-site manager, also became the Covid-19 Compliance Officer certified for film/video/TV production, which meant that they could continue to offer studio and theatre rentals under strict C-19 procedures. With temperatures taken at the door, contact tracing forms filled out, sanitisation stations provided throughout with limited participation, social distancing and mandatory masks, they were able to build a healthy base of dance teachers, filming/video, etc., affording production rehearsals a safe place to be creative. As other facilities gradually begin to open up, they are continuing to be cautious but slowly increasing their options and opportunities with an expansion of classes on offer.
“When we moved our operation into this facility, the space had seen better days, frankly,” says Martin.
“We immediately did some extensive repairs and gradually restored the rooms to where they needed to be. We installed a theatrical lighting system in the theatre, which is now a very functional performance space with lights, sound – even a white Yamaha grand piano, which we will be featuring during jazz nights that we have planned as soon as we can safely open up to the world!”
They are spending their time meeting with more dance teachers and artists about bringing their programs into the studios and theatre, so there’s much optimism about building success into the future of this unique space. The H.E.ART started afresh recently with a mixture of in-person/live, ZOOM and Hybrid classes in acting, dance/movement, voice-over, editing and of course are planning to add many more exciting classes by this summer. In addition, they have established dance teachers already providing classes during the week, such as jazz/funk, modern, West African and flamenco with more coming on the horizon.
Again, Martin outlines their plans: “We fully intend to expand our performance offerings with live music, cabarets, comedy, poetry, spoken word, new plays, dance presentations, master classes, etc.
There’s so much we want to offer, and we have the perfect, flexible place to accomplish this and exceed people’s expectations. The only limitations are our own imagination/creativity.”
Folks can reach The H.E.ART on their website www.theheartarts.org, Facebook and Instagram @the_heart_arts where their co-founders – artistic directors Eartha Robinson and two-time Emmy Award-winning Vernée Watson – run a wonderful and varied curriculum. For the studio/theatre, there’s a recently developed Yelp! page with photos of the place and you can follow them on Instagram @heart_dance_space to view photos and videos of the facility and direct message them for inquiries or to set up a tour.