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Our History


P.L.A.C.E. (Partnerships in Learning and Creative Exploration Inc.) was incorporated on October 31, 2000 and received its IRS tax exempt status in December of 2001 with the help from the Yale Law School clinic.

From 2002-2006, pilot art programs were developed, a board of directors was formed, mini grants were sought, mini festivals were produced and the search began for an appropriate space for our visionary Multicultural Children's Museum and Creative Arts Center.


In 2007, P.L.A.C.E. received a technical assistant grant from The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preserveation and a matching grant from the Town of Hamden for bid level drawings and specs designed by Turner Brooks Architects for P.L.A.C.E. Childrens Museum and Creative Arts Center. P.L.A.C.E. hosts their first Arts & Culture Festival at Town Center Park. This becomes an annual festival every first Saturday in October.

P.L.A.C.E. entered into a 25 year lease for $1/year on a historic Rectory Barn, located at Town Center Park to be renovated and reused as the museum and art center in 2008. As part of the lease agreement, structural improvements, elevator, walls and windows would be the Town of Hamden's responsibility. New construction, including stage, decking, a new entrance addition, museum exhibits, cosmetic build out would be the responsibility of P.L.A.C.E.

Debbie Chavoya, Founder/Executive Director of P.L.A.C.E. opens P.L.A.C.E. Art Studio (located directly across from the barn) in 2008 in order to begin art and film programming for kids, adults with disabilities and outreach programs for the underserved. After-school, summer, and community art programs were developed to serve the greater New Haven areas.


In 2009-2010 The Town of Hamden appropriated funds to begin structural renovations to the barn based on drawings by Turner Brooks Architects. P.L.A.C.E. received additional grants from First Niagara Foundation and fundraised for a structural engineer consultant to help with this phase of construction. The barn was repositioned, placed on a foundation, the basement was built out including an elevator shaft and the entrance addition foundation was completed. The first phase of construction was completed.


From 2011 to 2013, the economic downturn halted the renovation progress on the barn.

P.L.A.C.E. Art Studio continues to grow and build a substantial base of support for their art & film programs.

In 2011 P.L.A.C.E. received The Program Award from Connecticut Youth Services Association for their exceptional film program for teens.

In 2012 P.L.A.C.E. received the The Hamden Chamber Choice Award.

Late 2013, The International Association of New Haven awards P.L.A.C.E. a grant to purchase a vehicle to renovate and take their programming on the road to underserved communities.


In 2014, P.L.A.C.E. purchases a charming trolley bus, which is called P.L.A.C.E. on the Go!, and becomes their mobile art & film studio, as well as their museum on wheels. Additional grants are awarded by DECD, Connecticut Office of the Arts & The NewAlliance Foundation, to bring mobile art programming to eight public elementary schools in Hamden serving 420 4th grade students.

In 2014, P.L.A.C.E. received a grant from the CT Trust for Historic Preservation and matching funds from The Town of Hamden to hire Bob Zoni, master roofer, to repair the slate roof on the barn. The Town of Hamden puts a fresh coat of paint on the barn. The next phase of construction begins.


In 2015, P.L.A.C.E. receives a $60,000 capital grant to fund the construction of the multicultural children's museum and art center entrance addition.

Additional grants were awarded to P.L.A.C.E. on the Go! from DECD, CT Office of the Arts, and in partnership with IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) for a 12 week after school art program for K-12 aged refugee children that have newly arrived to the U.S.

P.L.A.C.E. receives a program grant from IANH (The International Association of New Haven) for a 12 week "Reel Life" video workshop in partnership with the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven. The students produced, wrote, edited and directed several self expressive films, with a final group project called "REFUGEE". The film stars one of the groups real life refugee students who shares the process his family went through to be accepted to the U.S. and the gratitude he feels for the U.S. and IRIS for their support.

P.L.A.C.E. receives a grant from the DeLuca Foundation for P.L.A.C.E. on the Go! to participate in the International Festival of Arts & Ideas Pop Up Festivals and Cultural Exploration Day on the New Haven Green.


A public screening of REFUGEE, "Up on the Roof", of the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven followed by a Q & A.

P.L.A.C.E. partners with Mimsie Coleman, Director of Arts in Hamden and the Hamden Arts Commission to develop and create a community tile art project lining the exterior outdoor wall at Rochford Field. P.L.A.C.E. on the Go! visited the students at Ridge Hill and Spring Glen Schools to design and paint ceramic tiles that depict what nature and play mean to them. In August, the tile wall was unveiled at the Annual National Night Out Celebration.

October marks the 10th Anniversary of our Arts & Culture Festival at Town Center Park in Hamden. Participants include cultural organizatons from the Greater New Haven areas.

Plans are underway for The Town of Hamden to fulfill their obligation to install utilities to the museum site so that the $60,000 DECD grant award for the addition can be completed in a timely manner.

Mimsie Coleman, Dept. of Hamden Arts and P.L.A.C.E. receive news that a $48,000 grant has been awarded to the Town of Hamden on behalf of P.L.A.C.E. to build an ADA compliant ramp, stage and railing for the Children's Museum and Art Center.


Unfortunately our $60,000 dollar grant for P.L.A.C.E.'s Children's Museum was rescinded due to the Town of Hamden's inability financially to fulfill on their requirement to contract utilities to be brought to the site.

Hamden Town Council accepts the grant award from the state for the ADA ramp, stage and railing on behalf of P.L.A.C.E. in September.


P.L.A.C.E. recieves a $57,500 grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to renovate the P.L.A.C.E. on the Go! Trolley.


Due to the pandemic, P.L.A.C.E. is only offering zoom art classes.


P.L.A.C.E. and Quinnipiace University collaborate on a Multicultural Party on March 31st from 5p-7p to introduce students to intern and volunteer opportunities at P.L.A.C.E.





For more information, please contact our Executive Director Debbie Chavoya, at 203.288.8600 or email her at





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