Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, The Art Effect

The Art Effect was created in 2018 from a year-long merger process of two long-stand- ing arts education and youth development agencies in Poughkeepsie, NY: Mill Street Loft and Spark Media Project. Beginning in January 2017, these two highly successful organizations integrated their visual art and media programs in order to better serve Hudson Valley youth. The Art Effect is a community-based, multi-arts educational center offering a wide range of creative, educational, and culturally-enriching programs. We engage children and adults throughout the Hudson Valley region with a focus on youth ages 11- 24 in the City of Poughkeepsie. 

The merger was first conceived when Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, a GCSEN Meaning Maker, was approached to apply to become the new executive director of Mill Street Loft, as the founder, Carole Wolf was stepping down. At this time Nicole was the executive director of Spark Media Project and she was not ready to leave the agency she had worked so hard to help build over ten years. The two organizations had a history of collaborating in the same community for many years and served similar communities—one in the visual and performing arts and one in the digital and media arts. Nicole proposed they consider a legal affiliation in her cover letter for the open position. It didn’t take long for the Mill Street Loft and Spark Media Project board of directors to vote unanimously in favor of the merger. Nicole’s time during the 2015 Meaning Maker Bootcamp at Marist College had prepared her to handle this undertaking and she was able to move forward with confidence and meaning, thanks to the experience.

 All of the emotion and effort paid off though as the organization was put together and renamed the Art Effect. The other step in unification was to bring the programs together into logical structures. Some classes were completely fused, incorporating media and the arts, while a few were kept more specialized. The programs were also sorted into beginner, experienced and excel. This structure became Explore, Experience, Excel—the Art Effect’s new tagline.

Applied-learning to get you going on success— strategy, marketing, finance & strategic planning for 4P social entrepreneurship: people, profit, planet & place. • Join GCSEN’s THEOS Social Venture Entrepreneurs collaboration community. • Work on your own social venture designed around your talents, passion, values, and purpose to put more humanity into your business. • Launch or nurture your Social Venture for only $1,200 in blended web courses with coaching! ACTIVATE YOUR INNER SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR “It took time to merge both organizations,” Nicole said, “but the effort has been worth it, for me, for our dedicated staff, and certainly for the community.” Art Effect runs a wide variety of high-impact courses and programs for all ages, including summer programs, arts for healing, explore the arts for children, and art classes for adults. “The experience I gained at GCSEN’s Bootcamp helped me stay organized and efficient through the process and I’m thankful for the skills gained with them.”

 –Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, The Art Effect. To learn more, visit

Back to blog