Six years is a long time to wait for something, but in the case of the newly opened Annex at Bush Barn Art Center, the wait is definitely worth it. With the grand opening in September, the elevator and other improvements bring the Art Center into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessibility.   

Prior to the installation of the elevator, the upstairs Gallery at the Art Center was inaccessible to people with certain disabilities.  Updating the building to appropriate standards for accessibility was complicated by the fact that the Art Center is on the National Register of Historic Places which limits structural changes.  The problem was solved by putting the elevator in the expanded Annex and connecting the two spaces with a glassed in walkway.   

The Annex expansion also provides Salem with a brand new, multi-use art space which Kathleen Dinges Rice, the Community Arts Education Director,  describes as an experimental and collaborative space for making, learning about, and showing art.  It features a dedicated studio for an Artist-in-Residence program, and a separate space for art workshops, exhibitions and other programming which will evolve with the needs of the community.  Since opening in September, the Annex has already been host to an opening show and several workshops.  From December 1st-January 11 the first artist-in-residence in the new space will be Katheryn Cellerini Moore, who will be creating a sculpture in conjunction with TEDx Salem. 

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The expansion of the Annex  provides  space for Salem Art Association’s  programming, and will be the  headquarters for the  Association’s Community Arts Education (CAE) program.  Dinges Rice is looking forward to greater opportunities to provide art workshops, exhibitions, classes, children’s activities, workshops, and a chance to have more alternative voices and experiences represented. 

Dinges Rice stresses that the Annex is both an experimental and  collaborative space which is tied in to the community.  She encourages people to bring ideas for activities, workshops, displays, and performances.  Because it is designed to be a multi-use space, everything from gallery displays to dance recitals is possible, and Dinges Rice is hoping to have them all.   She sees an opportunity to expand  program offerings, host special events and reach more members of the community in different and innovative ways.  She is especially enthusiastic about being able to have communities which have had less chance to have a voice be represented.  She hopes artists with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community,  and others who have alternative experiences will bring their work and their unique viewpoints to share. 

The Annex has already brought several new workshops to Salem, and more are in the works.  Dinges Rice encourages people who  have an idea for a show, activity, workshop, or something else that may be a good fit, to contact her.  The focus of the Annex is to provide a place that is collaborative, experimental, serves the community, and most importantly, allows all our voices to be represented, and all our art to be shared.