Black-owned collaborative arts space called ‘Creative Lounge’ encourages artistic excellence, teaching, freedom

Arts

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Imagine a place tucked away in the Kee Lox Business Park in Rochester on Tremont Street, that is both a place to get away create.

Founder of the space, Toshman Powell, a self-described “creative specialist,” says the Creative Lounge has everything from teeth whitening, to hair styling, to music, to catered events, writing workshops, a photography and videography studio.

They hold most of their events RSVP only, by emailing thecreativelounge585@gmail.com. Powell says they are also always looking for new ideas as well.

At it’s core, the space is meant to exist to serve creators. It has served as a dance floor for classes, a concert space, a music lesson room, anything anyone needs to be maximally creative.

The Creative Lounge also has weekly and regular events, like Brunch with Starving Artists, Monday Creative Dance, and the Wednesday Writer’s Workshop.

Powell says it was born out his own need to create — whether it was music, graphic design, or dance — but being stuck at home in 2020.

“After only being to do what was in hand’s reach, I said: ‘You know what, after this, I am going to create a place where no matter what, I can create,'” he said. “It’s a place where all creators, anything creative, we meet, we work together to take an idea from the ground level to the stars.”

Powell has had a number of guests artists and teachers at the Lounge, many of whom are a part of Rochester’s incredible art scene, like Jimmie Highsmith Jr., Chaz Bruce, and (formerly of Rochester) Avis Reese. But he also has regular

One of them is Shaq Payne, a spoken word artist who has an extensive background in teaching, publishing, and curriculum design. He used the Lounge to host his Fringe 2020 performance, and he currently helps with their Wednesday Writer Workshops and runs the Brunch with Starving Artists.

“The Creative Lounge has been a safe haven for me personally,” Payne said, right before he embarks on a tour of his own work. “Toshman hit me up a year ago… And asked me what could I do in a space like this. He said do it, just do it right here. And I said ‘bet.'”

But this place has a twist, if you’re going to create, instead of paying or any service, you have to teach a class. Powell says that it’s akin to passing a baton. No artist is going to be around forever, and this the next person can keep the art going.

Payne likens it legacy.

“It’s the fact that being creative, and doing my art, and having mentors that pour into me literally saved my life,” he said. “But what is it if I don’t give anything back to the community, if I don’t give anything back to those who are trying to find their way, and art is the only way they can do that?”

You can watch the Monday Creative Dance and a performance from Jimmie Highsmith Jr. below:

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