DELRAY BEACH — Once East Atlantic Avenue reached the saturation point of restaurants, galleries and shops, it was inevitable that culture would have to head up the side streets.
Sure enough, the latest tenant at 180 N.E. First St. is the Arts Garage, which houses a popular jazz series, classes for kids and displays of visual art. The former piano bar opened in April. Its next jazz performance is Saturday, with saxophone player Ed Calle and his group. Calle has performed with Gloria Estefan, Arturo Sandoval, Jon Secada, Bob James and others.
Clearly meeting a local appetite for live entertainment, the series has sold out every concert since it began in April.
"The venue itself has so much energy, it's spectacular," said Alyona Ushe, executive director of the Creative City Collaborative, the group that runs Arts Garage and its projects.
"Delray Beach is the perfect destination for international jazz," she said .
Created in 2006, the group works hand in hand with the city's Community Redevelopment Agency. One of its most enthusiastic supporters is board member Thomas Carney, who has experience in television and movie production.
The Collaborative has moved cautiously, slogging through the economic recession. But the CRA bought a downtown warehouse, which is hoped will become a larger permanent home for the Arts Garage in two to three years. There are plans for expanding to music, dance, drama, art and even yoga.
"This is an incubator," Ushe said. The Arts Garage's neighbor is a puppetry art center.
In the meantime, they are not remaining idle. Playing off the popular television series Glee, the arts collective is running a "Glee class" for children 7-13, featuring singing and dance practice with teacher Drew Tucker.
The 5,000-square-foot space that houses the Arts Garage is flexible enough to accommodate live performances and, by means of moveable walls, can be adapted for art shows. Customers are permitted to bring their own wine to performances.
Future acts at the Arts Garage include Turk Mauro on Aug. 13 and Rose Max on Aug. 27. For tickets and more information, visit the Arts Garage page on Facebook.