The Westville arts scene grew a little bigger with the opening of Chapel Haven’s new UARTS program and store in the heart of the village Friday afternoon.
Artists in the Chapel Haven Schleifer Center joined Mayor Toni Harp and State Rep. Pat Dillon for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new store at 12 Fountain St.
The location also will be home to Chapel Haven’s Center for Employment and Service Opportunities, which until now has been based in North Haven.
Chapel Haven President Michael Storz said UARTS and the center i be a place for Chapel Haven-connected artists with different abilities to learn how to create art for sale. Though some of the art is created by individuals, most of it is created by the artists working together. What’s for sale will grow and change as the artists learn different skills.
“They’re constantly learning new art skills, new crafts, new products,” he said. “They have input into the kinds of creative things they want to see. They will bring in guests who will teach skills that may be beyond all of our abilities and we will be able to learn that skill.
UARTS is Chapel Haven’s artisan training program which helps adults with developmental and social abilities learn skills that can lead to meaningful employment. Chapel Haven adults’ art will be available for sale the store.
The works of art include wall hangings, neckties, and scarves all handmade from participants in the UARTS program like Laurel, pictured above.
Storz credited Lizzy Donius, pictured, of the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance with wooing UARTS and the employment center to Westville, where Chapel Haven is already making big investments through a multimillion dollar overhaul of its campus three blocks away.
“This is a very exciting day so glad to have this storefront, this public-facing space for Chapel Haven in the heart of Westville,” Donius said. “It has already transformed this block and we’re not even an hour in.”
She said she sees Chapel Haven “as the heart and soul of Westville,” and the opening of the UARTS store only contributes to the neighborhood’s strong arts identity.
“All of these artists are part of the arts community here in this neighborhood and this is just beyond wonderful,” she said.
State Rep. Dillon and Mayor Harp said they both got a taste of the talent of Chapel Haven artists.
“I’m really excited for the positivity and the creativity,” Dillon said.
Harp said she’s excited that people can get one-of-a-kind gifts like these handmade scarfs year-round.
Danielle Chiaraluce, executive director for Chapel Haven’s employment center, said that the point of the program is to provide meaningful opportunity for adults affiliated with Chapel Haven to identify internships and competitive wage employment.
Storz said thanks to a grant made possible by the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Chapel Haven is trying to make inroads in raising the employment rate for adults with disabilities. He said for adults with developmental and social disabilities have very high unemployment and underemployment rates.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “We know our adults have talents and we’re going to showcase our talents.”
Artist Danny, pictured above, showed how he uses this loom, in the maker space Friday.
Storz said he’s happy that this first venture is in Westville because the neighborhood is part of Chapel Haven’s fabric for success.
“It’s where our adults want to be,” he said. “It’s where our adults love to be. It’s the place our adults call home.”