Drastic cuts to school music programs across the nation — including two local school districts — helped inspire two residents to launch a new performing arts center in Scranton.

Founder and Creative Director Lance Miley and President Robin McArdle of Scranton-based nonprofit Making Music Matter for Kids are opening the Place on the second floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown.

The Place will offer free and low-cost music lessons and programs for prekindergarten through high school kids and will host ongoing, weekly events to showcase national acts as well as regional talent.

Miley, who has more than two decades of experience teaching music, saw a need for a center like the Place as funding cuts shrink music programs in Northeast Pennsylvania and across the country.

More than 1.3 million elementary school students in the U.S. do not have access to a music class, according to the Children’s Music Workshop, a music education company.

Locally, the Scranton School District cut music and art classes and eliminated librarians within the past year. In 2014, the Western Wayne School District eliminated formal music education for prekindergarten to second grade students.

“Where I come from, music was curriculum, not an extracurricular activity,” Miley said.

The Place got its name from the relief McArdle said she and Miley felt after a 10-year search for the perfect spot to start their new center.

In 2008, they had a music school in New Jersey before relocating to Greentown. Over the years, Miley noticed some students would stop coming because they couldn’t afford it anymore, McArdle said.

“If someone had passion, and parents couldn’t afford it, he said, ‘Come in anyway,’ ” she said.

Private lessons at the Place will start at $20 for 30 minutes, but children whose families meet the Pennsylvania guidelines for low-income residents will be eligible for free lessons.

Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic status show better academic outcomes, have higher career goals and are more engaged when they have an in-depth involvement in the arts, according to a 2012 study by the National Endowment for the Arts.

It gives kids a life skill when they’re young and helps prevent them from getting bored and turning toward drugs, McArdle said. It gives kids discipline and focus, Miley added.

The Place will hold a series of open houses starting Aug. 31. For information, visit the Place on its Facebook page or Instagram, @makingmusicmatterforkids.

“We’ll never deny any child,” Miley said. “That child might be the next Jimi Hendrix — you never know.”

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Open house schedule

  • Saturday, Aug. 31, noon to 3 p.m.: Meet Lance Miley and Robin McArdle and enter a gift card raffle.
  • Saturday, Aug. 31, 4 p.m.: Black Label Society bassist John “JD” DeServio will hold an instructional bass clinic and perform with Metal Mob. Pure Steel Records recording artist Legion performing songs from newest record, “War Beast.”
  • Sunday, Sept. 1, noon to 6 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Performances by the Making Music Matter for Kids Band and Colortura Trio.