Words and photos by Olivia Bauso
Spectrum Creative Arts first opened its doors on September 15th, 2013. Directed by Megan Resig, Noa Ferguson and Wade Richards, Spectrum aims “to create a space that would not only allow them to better serve their existing client base, but also to give life to a thriving arts community that provided an alternative to traditional methods of teaching.” I sit down in the Spectrum conference room with Noa Ferguson to talk about her journey as a music therapist and the growth of the business.
Noa and Wade met in 2009 during Noa’s first music therapy internship at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. Upon completing her undergraduate degree in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, Noa earned her Masters in Human Development from the University of Rochester and remained in the area as a practicing Music Therapist. She explains, “Music therapy uses music as a clinical tool to work on non-musical goals. I might be using music with, for example, someone on the autism spectrum to be engaging in different types of musical activity to enhance social and communicative skills.” She continues to say that since it can look so different on a case-by-case basis, Music Therapy is difficult to define and understand for some.
“Music Therapy is using music to work on specific deficit areas in the same way that services like Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy or Physical Therapy would, but our tool is music. Music is always something that people can connect with in some way,” Noa adds. Directors Megan, Noa and Wade are all Music Therapists, and Spectrum originated as a combination of the three’s private practice work. After operating out of less than ideal locations, they decided to develop a Music Therapy “superspace.” Noa tells me, “When the three of us got together we said, ‘Why stop at just Music Therapy?’ It looks like Rochester would really be interested and engaged with something that’s creative arts in the larger sense.” So, Spectrum Creative Arts emerged as a center for music, art, theatre and dance.
Spectrum offers a unique variety of creative arts programming here in Rochester. This includes individual music, dance and art lessons, group classes, seasonal camps and individual and group music and art therapy services.Their reach extends beyond their walls and into the Rochester community, providing services in early intervention programs, school districts, community centers, senior living facilities, day care centers, rehabilitation clinics and group homes.
The learning hub began with a team of three, but now employs over 20 creative arts professionals -- something that the directors see as one of their greatest successes. Noa tells me, “We’re really proud to be able to create sustainable careers in the arts.” For many, a career in the arts means accepting the reality of working for supplemental income. But for the leaders at Spectrum, that’s not an option: “We don’t think that’s ok and we don’t think that has to be the reality. We have worked really hard to say that might have been the reality, but we want to create a reality we’re really proud of here.”
The name “Spectrum” was chosen very intentionally -- “Although now Spectrum Cable has jumped on our bandwagon,” Noa laughs. She says, “Spectrum works with so many different types of people: different backgrounds, differents abilities, different experiences. So like our name alludes to, there isn’t one specific population we’re working with.” Their programming provides an environment for everyone from early childhood to adulthood. And, since their class catalog runs on a semester basis, there’s something new and different happening every few months. Noa affirms, “The world is not a homogenized place. We want to replicate that here and show that as much as we can in our programming and classes.” She hopes that Spectrum Creative Arts will continue to grow and provide a variety of classes based on teacher’s specialties and the community’s needs. They’re additionally looking forward to expanding the space in 2019.
Something new that Spectrum will premiere this summer is their first creative arts summer camp! For one week in July, Spectrum will host 8-11 year-olds at Rochester Brainery for their premiere run of “Creative Crusaders… and the Lost Arts.” Art, music and theatre teachers will guide children in a “swashbuckling journey around the world” as they explore history through the creative arts. Marketing and Services Coordinator Emily Putnam says, “We knew we wanted to do something that touched on all of the things we offer at Spectrum: music, dance, art and theatre. But, we wanted to do something that highlighted all of the creative arts in a more explorative way — something that takes us out of what we know while learning about the world a little bit.” Like all of Spectrum’s programming, Creative Crusaders will provide an inclusive creative arts learning environment for students this summer.
For individual Spectrum Creative Arts classes at Rochester Brainery, see our class calendar. For more information on their summer camp, visit their website now or contact Emily Putnam at firstname.lastname@example.org.