What were they thinking naming a business Nothing to See RI? Why would people spend money to visit 144 Metro Center Boulevard, formerly a Salve Regina satellite campus, if there’s nothing …
What were they thinking naming a business Nothing to See RI? Why would people spend money to visit 144 Metro Center Boulevard, formerly a Salve Regina satellite campus, if there’s nothing there?
Actually, there’s a lot at the newest home of The Talent Factory and Hugo and Dana Adames latest venture Nothing to See RI. What visitors don’t see, is the high tech control room that transforms the event space capable of accommodating 150 people into a venue for a spectacular birthday party, concert, dance show, comedy night, murder mystery evening and just about whatever you can imagine from a baby shower to retirement party.
The event space, once classrooms, is the center piece to 144 Metro Center Boulevard. There’s a lot more to it including three rehearsal rooms, conference room and a support team of professionals.
Nothing to See RI is the sizzle to the Adames’ story and a business model that Hugo envisions taking root in other cities across the country. The backbone to the business is what the couple has done for the past ten years – dancing.
It didn’t start off with dance class, at least not for Hugo.
As he tells the story, when they married 16 years ago he owned and operated a barber shop and she a dance studio. They agreed that after six years they would evaluate the two businesses and whichever was the most successful and showed the greatest promise for growth they would pursue together.
Hugo sold the barbershop and teamed up with Dana.
They opened their first Talent Factory in North Kingstown and later a second in South Kingstown. At the height of their operation, about 500 youths and adults were enrolled in Talent Factory classes and programs. Then came March 2020 and the pandemic shutdown. They quickly transitioned to virtual classes and for a short time that worked.
“Everyone was excited about it,” Dana said. But soon, she explains, the core element of socialization of the in-person experience couldn’t be replicated. Students dropped out and the business suffered. They closed their South Kingstown studio.
But, as it turned out, the pandemic and grants made available to businesses in the long run enabled the couple to embark on Nothing to See RI and the Warwick Talent Factory. They received a $40,000 Payroll Protection Program (PPP) grant enabling them to continue operations and resume in-person classes as Covid restrictions were eased. They initiated a summer camp program for students who received camperships funded by the Rhode Island Department of Education. Then in November 2020, they applied and received a $175,000 Commerce Rhode Island grant enabling to them build an outdoor theater at the North Kingstown location where they staged “The Lion King” last summer. A second grant under the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant, SVOG, of $348,000 took them to the next step and the Warwick plan. Hugo said $100,000 was spent in lighting alone.
The Talent Factory includes a pre-kitchen for caterers. The company has applied for a full liquor license that the Board of Public Safety will consider on April 11. As there will be entertainment, the Talent Factory will also need Zoning Board approval of a specialty use permit.
Hugo said he is looking to “create entertainment that is a little out of the ordinary for Rhode Island.”
Asked to explain, he said he is looking to establish a venue where people can develop and display their artistic talents...which, really, is a Talent Factory.
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