If you're looking for ways to keep your creative kids engaged, head to the mall. The upper level of White Oaks Mall just welcomed The Rainbow Room, a nonprofit creative space and art gallery. "Our goal is to make the central Illinois arts community more diverse, inclusive, and collaborative," explains Angie Tonucci, local artist and founder of The Rainbow Room. "What I want is a place that's bright and colorful and fun."
The new space will host family events and provide arts programing for kids and teens. According to Tonucci, regularly scheduled events include free family movies on the second and fourth Sundays each month from 3-5 p.m., toddler time every Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and story time with local authors one Saturday morning each month.
Plans for this year also include teen workshops in creative writing and graphic design and art classes for children and adults. "I've met so many new people already who have been searching for creative classes and workshops, especially activities for teens," Tonucci said.
Young aspiring artists can get also art show and gallery experience through The Rainbow Room's many art events and exhibits. "Encouraging and empowering these kids to use their imaginations and creativity, to share their stories and add color and magic to the world," Tonucci explains, "is one of the best things we can do for them and our future." The Rainbow Room has already held several shows and plans many more in the coming year.
The Rainbow Room will also create opportunities for artists from marginalized groups such as women, people of color, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community. Tonucci said that her initial focus has been on women of color and queer women. "Right now, every artist in the gallery fits into one or both of those categories," she said. Current featured artists include Bree Roberts, Almendra Rodriguez and Azia Donovan as well as two teens, Boris Davis and Jayde Brown.
"Our goal is to create an artist-focused space that will emphasize the artists' stories and cultural experiences," Tonucci said. "I have several other visual artists and writers that I hope to include in the coming year."
Tonucci is joined in this creative endeavor by two other founding board members, Staunzie Grady and Shatriya Smith. "Staunzie has, almost single-handedly, grown the community for visual artists and musicians with her art shows and other events over the last four years, Tonucci explains, "and Shatriya has done the same with poetry events and is a huge advocate for youth arts through her volunteer work with the Garvey Tubman Cultural Arts and Research Center."
The Rainbow Room already has many events scheduled and is ready to grow. Because the organization is still in its infancy, Tonucci said the greatest needs are cash donations and volunteers to help increase the gallery and studio hours and schedule more events.
The Rainbow Room is located on the upper level of White Oaks Mall. The closest entrance is the west-facing entrance between Dick's Sporting Goods and Five Guys. Find more information about The Rainbow Room and how to get involved on Facebook and Instagram @TheRainbowRoomSPI.