ASTORIA — A nonprofit arts school in Queens is kicking off its fall semester with a new look.
Art House Astoria Conservatory For Music and Art is hosting an open house this Saturday to preview some of the art and music classes it's offering this year, and to show off its newly upgraded headquarters.
"This is kind of a bigger open house for us because of all the renovations we've done," said Micah Burgess, who started Art House Astoria four years ago with his wife, Jane Burgess.
The organization operates out of the basement of a building at 23-35 Broadway, in a space it shares with the Astoria First Presbyterian Church, which the couple attends.
They started renovations in May, and the school now boasts a new lobby and a multi-purpose room that's been converted into a black box theater, with a stage and a lighting system.
"Our goal is to have events there throughout the week, a variety of things — musical performances, comedy," Burgess said. "We want to really turn it into a venue."
In addition to their student recitals throughout the year, Art House Astoria hosts monthly "salon nights," which are open mic style events open to performers of any age and discipline.
"We invite anybody to do any sort of performance, but its sort of a workshop, too," Burgess said, saying most performances are followed by feedback and a discussion with those in the audience.
This fall, Art House Astoria will offer art and guitar classes for adults, plus a number of classes for kids, including show choir, musical theater, guitar and piano classes for children as young as three, where they learn on miniature toy pianos.
New this trimester is kids' yoga, offered for ages 4 to 6 and 7 to 10, plus a weekly art class specifically for toddlers.
Both Micah Burgess, 36, and Jane Burgess, 35, are trained musicians — she's a singer and vocal instructor and he's a professional guitarist. The couple taught previously at the Queens Conservatory for Music in Flushing, and when it closed its doors in 2009 because of funding cuts, they found themselves teaching students out of their Astoria home.
The Burgesses asked their local church if they could use their space for a recital.
"The pastor said, 'Hey, have you guys ever thought about starting a nonprofit music school?" Burgess recalled, which is when the idea for Art House Astoria was born.
On Saturday, the school will run sample classes all day for many of its youth courses, and give tours of the newly decorated space.
"We're really excited to get people in and show them," Burgess said.
Editor's Note: Art House Astoria's fall open house will take place Saturday, Aug. 31 from 10 a.m, to 4 p.m. at 25-35 Broadway in Astoria. Click here for a complete schedule.