Local Blips guitarist to launch Firehouse Community Arts Center in Avondale

The Firehouse Community Arts Center
Future drum lessons will be available. Photo via the Firehouse Community Arts Center

The arts are getting a boost in Avondale with the Firehouse Community Arts Center—a new nonprofit featuring a music education program and creative learning space for youth.

A historic firehouse breathe music into the Avondale community

Firehouse Community Arts Center
Firehouse Community Arts Center in Avondale. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Behind the nonprofit is Eric Wallace, guitarist from Birmingham band The Blips along with a collective of local businesses and musicians.

The Firehouse Community Arts Center is located on 41st Street in Avondale’s historic Spring Street Firehouse. Wallace originally bought the building in 2009 to host music shows and other community events as well as teach guitar.

After the Firehouse shut down due to COVID-19, Wallace decided to push his music ambitions further. He founded the Firehouse Community Arts Center, which is expected to launch in February 2021.

After some needed renovations, the center will feature three lesson rooms and two fully-equipped rooms with drums, amplifiers, keyboards and a PA system. Walls will also be soundproofed so young musicians can rock as hard as they want without worrying about the noise.

The building next door, which is also owned by Wallace, will be converted into a recording studio that will connect to the arts center.

The building has a lot of character, exposed brick, etc. It’s a very creative space. By the end of the renovations, we’ll have three teaching rooms and two sound-proofed practice spaces. Also, we’ll have plenty of comfortable seating, so students and their families can hang out and spend time with each other.”

Chris McCauley, Director of Communications and Outreach,
Firehouse Community Arts Center

It’s all about music that excites and inspires individuals

Future drum lessons will be available.Firehouse Community Arts Center
Future drum lessons will be available. Photo via the Firehouse Community Arts Center

Here’s what the Firehouse Community Arts Center will offer:

  • One-on-one, interest-based music lessons with professional musicians for kids ages 9-18 who live in the City of Birmingham neighborhoods, including South Avondale, Forest Park, North Avondale and East Avondale.
  • Instruction in guitar, bass, drums, piano, songwriting + recording.
  • Fully-equipped practice spaces where youth can create together.

“We aim to reach 50-60 kids in the first year. Our goals include: Build Empathy, Strengthen Social Connectedness, Celebrate Creativity, Increase Communication Skills, and Build Self Confidence. Our vision is a diverse and connected musical community where artists of all ages use their creative voices to shape the future.”

Chris McCauley, Director of Communications and Outreach,
Firehouse Community Arts Center

One of the nonprofit’s main goals is to make music education available to anyone who wants to learn. In the interest of making the space a welcoming environment to all, income-based lessons and scholarships will be available. 

Show your support for local music

A crowdfunding page has been created with an initial fundraising goal of $70K. Donations will help the center:

  • Purchase equipment for practice spaces
  • Offer scholarships to kids in Avondale neighborhoods
  • Hire team members
  • Help offset the cost of renovations

So far over $14K has been donated. Show your support here.

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