When you pass by the historic firehouse on Alexander Road, you might not see what you expect. Instead of housing firemen and hoses, the building is filled with artists and supplies, buzzing with creative activity and expression. Since 2012, the firehouse has been home to the West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC), one of the most distinctive aspects of this community.
According to the Arts Council’s website, its mission is “to manage the West Windsor Arts Center and provide professional quality community arts programming in order to support, educate, inspire, and promote the arts and art appreciation.” The WWAC accomplishes these tasks by offering a variety of classes and events relating to artistic endeavors in the visual arts, theater, dance and writing.
One of the most distinctive aspects of the Center is its upbeat community ambience. “We’ve been able to create a place where people can come together in community and access their joy,” WWAC Director of Education Corinna Bisgaier said. “We love it when the place is filled with classes, parents are chatting with each other, and siblings are playing in the lobby. There are so few places in town where people can meet their neighbors and connect with each other; we’re proud to be one of them.”
West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh, along with community members and his task force, developed the concept of an Arts Council in 2002, beginning with arts programs scattered throughout the area. In spring of the following year, West Windsor Town Council members unanimously approved the Arts Council’s proposal to build the WWAC in the historic Princeton Junction firehouse, and seven years later, the Center was ready for the community.
“When we opened, we had a strong base of support with local artists and arts enthusiasts, including many loyal and hardworking volunteers who helped get us off the ground,” Bisgaier said. “At first, many people just wanted a nice place to have art exhibits and performances. Over time, we’ve expanded to be able to offer a whole lot more.” For example, the WWAC hosts events such as a Brazilian Carnival-themed fundraiser and its annual Poetry Slam, featuring both professional and beginner poets.
WWAC’s most popular offerings are its numerous classes and summer camps for kids. “The WWAC is a great place for kids since they have a lot of activities, great staff, and an overall friendly environment,” said West Windsor resident Achla Raina, whose eight-year-old has attended a WWAC theater camp. Teens will also find many special workshops where they can work on their art and performance skills, including classes on everything from break dancing to oil painting.
The WWAC also provides many opportunities for volunteering and community service, including opportunities for students. Volunteers help with the Center’s events, summer camps, and more, and students can even intern at the Center and run their own initiatives. “We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have access to such a wealth of talent in our local students. We’ve had interns steer marketing and fundraising campaigns, create digital media promotions, and organize art exhibitions,” Bisgaier said.
With its unique offerings and continued work toward arts appreciation, the WWAC is the place to go for any artistic endeavors; it’s truly living up to its label as “the junction where arts and the community meet.”