NICOLE S. COLSON
MoCo Arts is empowering the youth of Keene by helping them find themselves through arts education.
MoCo Arts is a family-centered nonprofit arts education organization in downtown Keene. They offer classes in dance and theater for students ages 6 months to 18+ years (select classes for adults). During the summer, MoCo runs multi-arts day and vacation camps for children and teens ages 4 to 18 years.
Now known as MoCo Arts, The Moving Company Dance Center was established in 1991. Specifically, it started as one woman’s vision to transform an old machine shop into a performing arts studio. By staying true to its mission, word about “MoCo Magic” got out. In 2015, MoCo began the process of creating a new home for students and the community. Necessarily, as enrollment had grown to exceed the capacity of the original location. MoCo was committed to remaining in downtown Keene; they opened their doors on Roxbury Street three years later. The 17,000-square-feet of state-of-the-art studio and performance space includes a black box theatre, professional quality studios, a green room and a large sunny lobby space for students and parents to enjoy.
MoCo Arts focuses on inclusivity
MoCo Arts prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming. Specifically, they want to make arts accessible to all, regardless of social or financial status. The organization provides up to $79,000 in tuition assistance per year.
“MoCo accepts you for who you are and where you are in your creative arts journey,” said Reagan Messer, MoCo Arts’ Executive Director and Artistic Director of Dance. “We are grateful for the commitment and passion of every student, staff member, board member, donor, and community member.”
As a way of getting more involved in the community, MoCo Arts offers Educational Outreach Programs. These extend to daycare centers, schools, community centers, gyms and other area organizations. MoCo understands that one of the best ways to spread its mission of Transforming Lives Through Movement and Creative Expression is to come to YOU.
Each year, MoCo brings its instructors to these locations. They offer a wide range of classes to suit the school or organization’s needs.
“Arts education helps students develop empathy, cultural awareness, and a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. By providing access to arts education in community locations, we’re investing in the future of our students and our communities.” said Reagan Messer.
MoCo Arts partners with local nonprofits
MoCo Arts works closely with Keene Housing Kids Collaborative. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serves kids that live in housing owned or managed by Keene Housing. The partnership offers free classes to children living in one of Keene Housings complexes. The collaboration has been a tremendous success, with students showing enthusiasm and excitement for their newfound love of the arts. The program has also helped to build connections between students and their communities. Helpfully, it provides a safe and supportive space for young people to express themselves and grow.
MoCo Arts stretches its programming accessibility further by maintaining a community partnership with the New Hampshire Dance Institute (NHDI). The nonprofit offers a full merit-based scholarship to two NHDI students who have never been in a studio setting. MoCo is committed to developing students’ knowledge about dance by continuing their dance education in MoCo’s studios.
“MoCo is committed to expanding access to arts education for students throughout the Monadnock Region.” said Messer. “Our partnership with Keene Housing Kids Collaborative and NHDI is just an example of how we’re working to make that a reality.”
Keene community sponsors access to shows
MoCo’s welcoming environment extends to audience members. The organization designed the Community Stars Seats initiative to bring children and families to shows who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend.
“The generosity of C&S Wholesale Grocers and Main Street American Group has allowed us to expand the reach of our Community Star Seats program and allow children and families in our community to experience the transformative power of the arts as an audience member at MoCo’s performances.” said Messer.
It’s through sponsors and donors that MoCo Arts is able to stay accessible to all.
“Every dollar we receive goes back into programs,” said Messer. “We’re always looking to grow our MoCo family.”
MoCo Arts programming ranges from classes in multiple disciplines of dance; to musical theatre; straight plays and stage management; to digital photography; painting and drawing; and many other offerings.
“At MoCo Arts, we believe that every student has the potential to make a difference in their community and beyond. By providing access to high-quality arts education programs, we’re not only empowering students to pursue their passions, but also preparing them for a wide range of future opportunities.” said Messer. “They may go on to become teachers or arts administrators, or they may become future patrons of the arts. Regardless of their path, we’re proud to support them in their journey and help them unlock their full potential.”
MoCo cultivates the next generation
MoCo Arts’ core values center around inclusivity and individuality. They recognize that every student has their own unique creative journey. It’s MoCo’s mission to support students every step of the way by providing the tools and guidance they need to succeed.
“We’re not only helping them develop their artistic talents, but also nurturing important life skills like empathy, resilience, and problem-solving. Our goal is to create not just great artists, but great human beings who are able to think creatively, care deeply, and use constructive feedback to grow and improve.” said Messer.
MoCo Arts encourages all students and families to learn more about its programming by visiting moco.org. You can stop by MoCo Arts at 40 Roxbury Street, Keene, NH or call MoCo at (603) 357-2100. Anyone can tour MoCo Arts’ facility virtually through its website thanks to 360 All Around Virtual Tours.
“Nonprofit arts education organizations like MoCo Arts play a vital role in our communities, especially for kids. By providing affordable, accessible, and high-quality arts programs, we’re able to offer children from all backgrounds the opportunity to discover and develop their artistic passions. Beyond the personal and academic benefits of arts education, these programs also help to foster creativity, critical thinking, and community engagement – skills that are essential for success in any field.” said Messer. “At MoCo Arts, we’re proud to be a part of this important work and to help empower the next generation of artists and leaders.”
For more information about the Arts Access Project: opening doors to the arts, click on this link: Arts Access project and resources.