Thursday, 18 May 2017 23:16

Enhancing the community’s health through the arts

(Left) Dancer Keanu Brady rehearses in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space, which has been the scene of uncounted dance rehearsals, workshops, and shows.|In an effort to integrate into the west side and get people to feel some ownership, Sugar Space partnered with professional artists and youth from the Sorenson Unity Center to create a mural in their parking lot.|The converted warehouse at Sugar Space hosts everything from baby showers to performances by international artists.|The Dance collective “Porridge for Goldilocks” improvises to live music in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space on a summer afternoon, which has been the scene of uncounted Dance rehearsals, workshops, and shows.|Dancers Amy Freitas and Keanu Brady from the collective “Porridge for Goldilocks” improvise to live music in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space on a summer afternoon.|The green Studio Building is ideal for dance with its sprung wooden floor, courtesy of Ballet West and the uncounted volunteers who installed it section by section.||| (Left) Dancer Keanu Brady rehearses in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space, which has been the scene of uncounted dance rehearsals, workshops, and shows.|In an effort to integrate into the west side and get people to feel some ownership, Sugar Space partnered with professional artists and youth from the Sorenson Unity Center to create a mural in their parking lot.|The converted warehouse at Sugar Space hosts everything from baby showers to performances by international artists.|The Dance collective “Porridge for Goldilocks” improvises to live music in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space on a summer afternoon, which has been the scene of uncounted Dance rehearsals, workshops, and shows.|Dancers Amy Freitas and Keanu Brady from the collective “Porridge for Goldilocks” improvise to live music in the green Studio Building at Sugar Space on a summer afternoon.|The green Studio Building is ideal for dance with its sprung wooden floor, courtesy of Ballet West and the uncounted volunteers who installed it section by section.||| ||||||||

by Michael Evans / Photos by Michael Evans

Sugar Space thrived as a performing arts studio in Sugar House for four years before owner Brittany Reese bought the present site in Poplar Grove in 2013. She ran both locations for a short time, but Sugar Space is a solid west side business now with their sole location at 132 S. 800 W.

Recently, Reese took time out of her busy schedule for a West View interview: “[Sugar Space] started out with a focus on dance, since I was a dancer, but it is more of a community space now, “ said Reese.

They relocated from Sugarhouse to the west side because they were looking for a building to purchase rather than rent...”because when you have a venue, you put a lot of money into it – flooring, mirrors, lighting, all those things, and a lot of those things don’t come with you when you leave,” said Reese.

Another reason they moved to the west side was because it was close to downtown, and close to the airport, which is convenient when they bring in touring artists.

“[The property] came with three buildings. It looked like a little artist complex, so I really liked it, and we’ve been happy here, she said.” We’ve had help from River District Business Alliance, NeighborWorks Salt Lake, and Youth Works.”

At first, Reese experienced occasional difficulties during the business loan process from people who saw the new neighborhood as “other,” and hearing baffling questions about whether customers would be willing to go to the west side.

“It is more perception than reality,” she said. “Since we’ve been here four and a half years, I think it has changed. People come over here and they are fine – they like it a lot. We haven’t had any issues – my car got broken into in Sugarhouse. I haven’t had anything broken into over here.”

Sugar Space currently has about twenty “anchor tenants” that rent on a weekly basis – Aikido, Tap, Flamenco, and Modern Dance. Other tenants rent from them as often as four times a year. They have had an increase in one-time renters, such as weddings, quinceañeras, celebration of life memorials, baby showers, since they moved into the west side neighborhood and local families have become aware of their facilities. Some of their more unique events included a Medieval festival and a Rubik’s Cube competition.

Sugar Space serves as a type of incubator space for people who are practicing their own trade and who are looking for a place to host a class or retreat. About a year ago, Reese created a non-profit arm called “Sugar Space Foundation” to support creation of artist’s works.

“Personally, I think any artform is good for your soul, whether it be visual art, dance, theater improv, or comedy – practicing those things, dealing with emotions, interacting with people.. art is therapeutic,” said Reese.