When Debra Mumm started her nonprofit CREATE Center for the Arts in October 2016, it was with a vision for developing a community art center where anyone could come to learn, share and grow their creative skills.
Starting in a 5,400-square-foot suite off Highway 111 in Palm Desert, Mumm also envisioned one day being in a multi-story building where artists could create just about anything, where she can have a teaching kitchen for the culinary arts, and more.
Today, that dream has been realized with the recent move to a 20,000-square-foot building with rooms, creating an art campus that will allow people of all ages the opportunity to explore and nurture their artistic and creative ideas and talents.
“I am super grateful to be here,” Mumm said Wednesday, unable to contain her excitement as she stood in the lobby of the building, at 73-600 Alessandro Drive, in Palm Desert. “I love it here so much. I will have a complete art campus under one roof.”
She is leasing the building from Lindi Biggi, founder of the nonprofit Loving All Animals, who built the complex with her daughter in 2017 as a people and pet day spa, Venus de Fido, which closed in 2019.
The art center is still being set up, and under current state and county COVID-19 restrictions cannot be open for programs and classes.
The one thing that can open is the retail shop, which Mumm has made a priority to help College of the Desert students in need of art supplies for their classes.
The store will open in January and stock new and used art supplies, including paint and hard-to-find items, she said.
A background in art supplies and retail, Mumm’s mission has always been “to provide community enrichment through the arts.” All arts.
The new location is key to meeting that goal, as it neighbors a residential area of families with children, many of them low-income, as well as seniors – people Mumm has most wanted to reach to provide opportunities to explore and grow their talents.
CREATE will offer a variety of programs including painting and drawing, printmaking, gardening, fiber arts, film and photography. The spa amenities created for Venus de Fido – salt cave, massage rooms and outdoor hot tub – also will be used for a new wellness program, Mumm said.
Situated off the lobby is the new Digital Design Lab with virtual reality studio.
“People can create virtually everything digitally here,” Mumm said.
It is also where CREATE can continue its “PPE for Everybody” project.
Since April, Mumm said, more than 10,000 face masks and shields have been made in the lab and distributed throughout the valley, including to health care providers at the local hospitals.
A photo studio will offer photography classes and studio and a darkroom open for public use as well as a video production and broadcast studio.
A café just inside the entrance will have guest chefs offering cooking classes for kids, Mumm said.
There is also space she hopes to ultimately turn into a woodworking studio.
CREATE is funded through donations, fundraisers, various sponsorships and grants. Memberships are available as well but not required to enroll in classes and workshops.
Since the beginning, Mumm has created an art center that brings together artists of all skill levels, from beginner to expert, through her programs and classes where friendships are often born.
“For me, it’s about personal empowerment – empowering people through their own creativity. Not everyone recognizes their creativity,” Mumm said.
CREATE also brings in visiting artists who lead workshops and seminars and the new location offers a large event space that can be used separately from the studios.
“As small as we were before, we still had international visitors come for our Master Class workshops,” Mumm said.
CREATE is also Center for Nonprofit Advancement, which helps Mumm to connect with other nonprofit organizations.
“I’ve learned that a really great way to help people is to connect with other nonprofits that are helping people and help their people, because they don’t have the facilities to do some of these things,” Mumm said.
Palm Desert residents Robin Stewart, a knitter and a volunteer with CREATE, said Mumm has created an environment that inspires and welcomes new ideas from everyone.
“That makes people want to be here and want to be a part of this,” Stewart said.
For more information about CREATE Center for the Arts programs or to donate to the nonprofit, visit the website at createcentercv.org or call (760) 834-8318.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: An art campus ‘under one roof’: CREATE Center for the Arts moves into larger building in Palm Desert