In the heart of Kensington stands a five-story former paper mill turned arts building named the Papermill Community of Artists. When it was purchased three years ago by Director Karyn Vetter, the building was in some degree of disrepair, its former napkin- and tablecloth-producing facilities full of garbage and debris, and lacking utilities. Since then, the space has been transformed into a multipurpose arts community including a gallery space, theater and more than 40 studios available for rent.
The first floor consists of a spacious gallery room with 3,000 square feet that is open for short or long-term rentals. Its affordability makes it ideal for college student shows, for which it has been utilized in the past, as well as performances, art exhibits, open houses and occasional meet-and-greets with the resident artists and community.
Also on the first floor is the Papermill’s resident theater company Hella Fresh Theater. Hella Fresh is an independent theater that produces a number of plays throughout the year. In June, Hella Fresh wrapped up its performances of “Automatic Fault Isolation,” written and directed by John Rosenberg. The play is about the drama between a young girl, her aerospace engineer math teacher and her African American love interest in Alabama during 1965. The action is set in a Huntsville motel room at a time when the space program and racial integration were still very new ideas, especially in the Deep South. Stay tuned for future productions at Hella Fresh later this year.
Upstairs, the Papermill is home to 42 studios which range from 130 to 300 square feet and are available for $100 – $300 per month. Artists in various media and with varying budgets can find something to fit their needs. Utilities and Wi-Fi are provided with rent, and the studios are accessible 24/7. Residents include everything from Earthwise Naturals, a company which handcrafts organic soap and body care goods, to a photography studio and numerous fine artists. Visit the tenant list to see who else has a spot inside the Papermill.
Once a factory and now a home to artists and performers of all kinds, the Papermill is a multi-use community arts center with a lot to offer Kensington and the Philadelphia area in general. Contact Karyn Vetter at email@example.com for information about rentals or events.
The Papermill is located at 2825 Ormes St., Philadelphia; 215-687-8391; www.papermillarts.com.