New purpose for an old Peoria school building

Local News

A local couple is breathing new life into an old Peoria school building.

Jonathon and Nikki Romain plan to turn the old Greeley School into a community arts center. They also founded the non-profit organization “Arts Re-Envisioning Tomorrow”.

The goal is to rent part of the space to local artists and use the rest for youth art programs from musical theater to painting.

Jonathon started painting while serving a 15-year prison sentence for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

“It was in prison where I ultimately I was able to turn my life around, I got involved with art. That started to do real well for me and I had determined this is what I was going to do the rest of my life.” Romain says.

Jonathon and Nikki plan to use their own experiences turning their lives around to provide a safe, positive space for kids living in some of Peoria’s toughest neighborhoods.

“Oftentimes they shut people down with the statement that ‘You don’t know anything about me.’ I know everything about them, I know exactly what they’re going through,” Romain explains. “I have the template to help them turn their life around and get on the right path so that they can enjoy life and have a successful and productive life.”

“For me, the arts literally saved my life. I was going through a lot at home, dealing with, you know issues, and also, just being a female grappling with everything that we go through and the arts just gave me a place to escape, a place I felt safe, and that’s what I want to be able to do for the kids.” Nikki says.

An architect is working on renderings for the project. The couple hopes to open next summer.

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