The new Erie Center for Arts and Technology is poised to purchase the former Wayne Elementary School from Erie's Public Schools at a price tag of $250,000.  Then they plan to invest millions to create a community-based educational arts and career training facility.

"So the total cost is about $9.5 million for the entire budget for the renovation and purchase of Wayne," said Daria Devlin, Executive Director for the center.

The investment includes fees for architecture and engineering, as well as fees for a new federal market tax program.  

The renovation is expected to take one year to complete, but plans are moving forward in other ways.  The center plans to offer its first arts training course for high school students this month.  It's a four week photojournalism course at no cost to students.  It will be held in the Radius Cowork space with planned field trips to Pittsburgh and Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water.  There is still space to sign up by clicking here.

The philosophy of the high school arts programs that will be offered after school and in the evening is aimed at getting students excited about learning. "It's not really about creating a generation of artists, it's really about re-engaging kids in things that get them excited, so certainly on the arts side it's about skills, but it's also about just engaging kids in some healthy activities that can really just ignite interest in other things," Devlin said.

Based on the Manchester Bidwell model in Pittsburgh, the center will also offer free career training for adults, starting with training in medical technology, and adding customer service training. According to Devlin, "It cannot happen until Wayne is done because the space has to be certified by the department of education, so we will be a licensed training center by the department of ed but we have to wait for everything to be finished before that can happen."  She added "We expect to be applying to the department of ed while Wayne is getting ready and then open the doors in fall of 2020, fully certified and ready to go with our first co-hort of students."

Because the program will be funded by a combination of private donations and grants, employer support and state money related to Manchester Bidwell, all the programs will be free, and offer a chance for some prospective students to get out of poverty. "It’s the way that we think some people can really get that foot out of poverty," Devlin said, "there’s lots of for profit training programs in Erie but if you’re coming out with 25 thousand dollars in student loan debt attached to that it’s pretty hard to get yourselves out of your situation so, we’re pretty proud of the fact that this model is no cost."