By Mike DeMoya
A few years ago Jersey City was only known to be home to dreamers, but now it is now leading the conversation when it comes to art. People are becoming more interested in the art scene of Jersey City, not because art is sold here, but because it lives here.
Jersey City Theater Center is one of many artist studio spaces popping up in the Tri-State. Manhattan is most known for having spaces like this for artist to work out of, but it’s become too expensive and when these art spaces become too expensive, they are converted into condos. Prices can range from anywhere to $1,000 to $2,500 for a small studio space in NYC. Every year in Manhattan there are less artist spaces and more expensive studio spaces. These now “homeless” artists need a new, convenient and affordable space to work in.
Resident artist Jennifer Roberts is very familiar with this migration pattern to New Jersey.
“I remember when I had a studio in Chelsea some odd years ago, it was a delight. The cramped studio space was heaven sent and it was my second home. But when your second home starts to cost more than your first home, something has to change.”
Originally Jennifer Roberts looked towards the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and some places even outside city limits. But she needed to be less than a 10 minute train ride outside of lower manhattan.
Then she found what most others find.
There are studio spaces opening up more and more frequently on this side of the river. There are some artist spaces right outside of Jersey City including the 321 Newark Building in Hoboken and CMG Studios in Union City. But Jersey City is home to at least three complexes or communities for artist housing. There is the famous Mana Contemporary, the hidden Tenmarc Building, and of course the quaint Jersey City Theater Center.
JCTC is not just another closed studio space, but more of an open format for artist to creatively expand. Just like the name says, this company/community has a strong focus on theater and acting. But they have rooms for young and veteran artists who need a space to create in.
JCTC was created in 2007 by Olga a seasoned theater director, who wanted “to bring culture to jersey city. To bring stories to life. To bring art to people.”
As the first production company in Jersey City they had the chance to provide more than any other company before them. Besides theater space and artist housing space, they offered something called the Art Lab.
Olga explains, ”Art lab helps provide a theater space. Rehearsal space. (That) young artist can have a opportunity to rehearse and develop artistically here in our space.”