Avix Art’s Artistic Director Michelle Boutros and Operations Manager Jeremiah Garner pose for a photo in the school’s black box theater. Gary Herron photo.

A performing and visual arts school that opened during the pandemic last year is stable, thanks to wise business moves, said its owners.
Avix Art’s Artistic Director Michelle Boutros and Operations Manager Jeremiah Garner purchased the former ASK Academy building at 4311 Sara Road. Garner had the idea to lease out the first floor of the two-story building and reserve the second floor for Avix Arts.
By doing this, the performing arts school supplemented its income while public-health orders prevented students from entering the building. The building has 10 units, with eight of them leased, Garner said.
In addition, the school qualified for relief from the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and a grant through the city’s CARES Act funds.
“So, the studio itself, the only reason we are able to cover our bills is because we have tenants downstairs,” Boutros said. “In comparison to other businesses that are very similar to us and they don’t have the opportunity to rent 10 spaces — or however many — if you are new, I would say it’s very hard to sustain an arts organization right now.”
Boutros and Garner want the school to be the art hub of Rio Rancho.
“It’s not about us; it’s about our community. It’s about bringing the arts to our community and bringing the arts as high-quality as we can get it because the arts are life-changing,” Boutros said.
The school introduces students to classical ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary dance, piano, percussion, drama, production, singing and more.
“Performing and visual arts are life-changing because of the pursuit of that art. It will completely change your life because of the process: There is so much to learn, and if you can take a young child and help them develop into whatever they want to be, whether it’s a singer or dancer, that leaves a lasting mark on their life for the rest of their life,” she said.
A challenge has been that they were not able to do a lot of community outreach when they opened due to COVID.
“So, for us, we weren’t from here, so we didn’t have a previous reputation, so we were trying to build who we were in a pandemic when no one was leaving their house. So that was really, really hard,” Boutros said.
The studio has been growing slowly, and now has 30 students, double the enrollment during its first semester, she said. People are finding the studio now that they’re coming out from quarantine.
“They are researching performing arts schools and finding Avix Art, and they are calling us,” Boutros said.
The school has multiple studios and will offer two-week summer camps starting in June.
“The way our philosophy stands is our goal is to provide a certain amount of skill sets for students, no matter what they do, whether they decide to become a professional or not,” Garner said.
The school has a black box room that can fit up to 100 people with a wall of windows facing the Sandia Mountains. Garner said it is a personal goal of his to rent this space out.
“We are definitely providing a safe environment, but what we are offering, fundamentally, is people coming and socializing and being humans together,” he said. “So when these restrictions get lifted and things get more under control and things are able to become more manageable, we are prepared to service those people who want to get out and be more involved in the community and have more of a social life.”
Schedule a tour with Avix Art by calling 302-0389 or visit avixart.com for more information.

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer