Performing arts non-profit finds forever home after nearly two decades
For the majority of the last 18 years, Cindy Lescarbeau has been operating a faith-based non-profit performing arts studio in spaces owned by other entities.
FREED Performing Arts was born in 2000 after Lescarbeau said she decided to seek a more wholesome dancing class for her then eight-year-old daughter, Jensen. At that time, she and her husband had grown uncomfortable with some of the choreography, costumes and music choices in her daughter's dance classes. When nothing seemed to be a good fit for the family, Lescarbeau decided to start an after school dance class at Calvary Christian Academy, where she was teaching at the time.
But unforeseen circumstances forced them to seek out a new place to hold classes. A little over four months later, and with help from members of the community, FREED opened a new studio inside the plaza at 605 S. Yonge St.
Tucked inside an alcove surrounded by floor to ceiling store-front windows, Lescarbeau has a permanent view of an oasis of plants from her office. Even from inside, she can wave at all of FREED's students and staff as they come in for classes.
“I just feel like this is a little bit of heaven, because it’s just such a beautiful place and it was exactly what I dreamed of," Lescarbeau said. "It’s like I saw it in my head and the community came together and brought it to pass, which is an amazing thing.”
FREED received help from companies like Associated Mirror and Shelving, Capers Wood Floors and Carpet and ICI Homes. Lescarbeau continues to be grateful for the support she and her non-profit have received and how it has continued through the years by people who believe in FREED's mission.
“We just want to share love, hope and be welcoming to the community," Lescarbeau said.
Lescarbeau said they loved being housed within a church, but having a storefront has granted them the visibility they didn't have before. Currently, FREED has 96 active students, as well as a number of "drop-in" adult students who pay for each individual class. Their system shows that 257 individuals are signed in to be able to look at classes, so she's hopeful class growth will continue.
For more information on FREED, visit freedperformingarts.com