Daily News

Gateway City Arts Sells Race Street Property to LightHouse Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Gateway City Arts (GCA) announced it has signed a purchase and sale agreement with LightHouse Holyoke for the transfer of the three-building arts complex at 92 Race St. in Holyoke.

“We couldn’t be happier to have LightHouse move into the space that we spent 12 years creating,” said Lori Divine, co-creator and co-owner, with Vitek Kruta, of Gateway City Arts. “Our mission was always to create a space for education, community, creativity, and inspiration. This was carried out in our classes, meetings, theater, food, music, and gatherings.

“LightHouse Holyoke shares so many of our values,” she went on. “When it was clear that GCA had to close, our hope was to find a buyer that would continue our vision merged with their own. We applaud what LightHouse brings to the lives of its students and their families and friends. We created a space for learning and sharing; LightHouse will continue that. Vitek and I are excited about the new chapter of creativity for LightHouse and for Holyoke.”

LightHouse is a competency-based middle and high school for self-directed learning. It first opened in Holyoke in 2015 and began a collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017. LightHouse now has partnerships with six public districts.

“Our mission statement begins with, ‘LightHouse is changing what school can be,’” said Catherine Gobron, co-founder and executive director for LightHouse Holyoke. “Situating a school within the framework of a performing-arts and concert venue is an incredible opportunity. We couldn’t imagine a more perfect location to expand our mission and vision than the state-of-the-art facility that Lori Divine and Vitek Kruta have built at 92 Race.”

For LightHouse Holyoke, the move offers a significant opportunity to expand its existing programs. The new facility will feature similar non-traditional learning spaces as those currently existing at LightHouse, presently just down the block at 208 Race St., including a maker space, music studio, and recording studio, which have already been instrumental in nurturing creativity and inspiration among students who may not have previously enjoyed school.

Plans for the three-building, 40,000-square-foot facility include a Production Academy integrated into the two on-site performance spaces, the 100-person-capacity Divine Theater, and the much larger 500-person-capacity concert venue, creating scaffolded training and internship opportunities for young people to learn the many skills associated with the entertainment and event-production industry, from lighting and sound to artist management and beyond.

Similarly, the café, designed and handpainted by Kruta, will reopen as a public restaurant, with integrated courses and internships in all aspects of running a café, leading to paid work and future career opportunities.

The facility also hosts an 8,000-square-foot maker space built by Divine and Kruta, which will continue on as a community maker space, complete with a wood shop and ceramic studio, both hosting classes and workspaces for LightHouse students and accessible to the larger community as well.

“At LightHouse, the students are the curriculum, individually and collectively, and the school is the community,” Gobron said. “From inception, downtown Holyoke has been our campus as we support young people to learn outside the confines of traditional classrooms, inspired by personal interests in the context of the real world. We could not be more honored or more excited to take up the mantle from Lori and Vitek and carry forward the work of creating art and building community in Hampden County.”