“Imagine a place where anyone seeking creative education, encouragement or expression is welcomed with open arms and open minds.”
That’s how the mission statement for The MAR St. Pete begins. It goes on to mention building community, celebrating mistakes, and collaboration as driving forces for the new multi-purpose arts space opening in the Grand Central District on September 1.
“My husband Dave and I dreamt this idea up on January 24, 2019,” says Heather Hamar, MAR CEO and co-founder. “However, this idea of owning my own performance arts business has been a dream of mine since high school.”
That dream has come to fruition as a space for singers, dancers, actors and musicians to teach, rehearse, record, live stream and collaborate. Hamar says The MAR will rent the facility to local artists and educators – including use of professional lighting, sound and streaming equipment – for performances, classes, and any number of arts-related endeavors.
The MAR’s expected adaptability to so many different artists and mediums, which Hamar believes makes it unique in the area.
“We had heard of a place called The House of YES in New York and it was very similar to the idea I had in my mind initially,” Hamar says, “which was to offer a place for creative work without boundaries.”
She and Dave were also inspired locally.
“We also love Studio 620 here in St Pete. 620 focuses more on visual arts, which we thought really opened the door for us to focus on the performance arts, which is our background. And we could work together!”
And what makes St. Petersburg the ideal location for such an ambitious project?
“It is one of the most artistically inspirational cities I have been in,” Hamar says. “It’s a smaller city that packs a big artistic punch!”
The Hamars have lived all around, but for them St. Pete was easily the place best suited to The MAR. Not only does it have a robust artistic community to serve and embrace, but as far as Heather and Dave are concerned, it’s a small-business friendly town like no other.
“The love and community of the small businesses here is incredible,” she says. “Every business feels like a partner rather than a competitor.”
The MAR recently put the finishing touches on its space in the Grand Central district, where they count an eclectic mix of shops and eateries as neighbors on a block that is in the midst of steady growth.
For Heather and Dave, the plan is solid, and the path is clear, but they says they aren’t going to restrict themselves to any fixed set of offerings. The possibilities for arts education, practice and exhibition are vast, and the couple will be adapting their model around the needs of the community.
“In our minds, there is no limit to what we could include,” Hamar says. “As we tap into our community of working performing artists, we can use their expertise to pave the way to the programming we will offer. That is a part of our dream – to utilize the amazing artists in this community to give them work here, in the city they live.”
For more, visit The MAR St. Pete.