Meet Kennett Square native Guenevere Finley, the owner of Calabrese Arts Co., a vibrant and welcoming space open to all who seek to explore the transformative power of the arts. Calabrese Arts is not simply a performing and creative arts center; it’s a haven that empowers and enriches lives through music and the arts.
A vast array of classes and programs for all ages are offered, including drawing and painting to the joys of singing, acting, improv, and yoga. Calabrese Arts goes beyond traditional classes, hosting events such as camps, workshops, open mic nights, and parent nights out. With regular youth theatre productions, there’s truly something for everyone—whether you’re an experienced artist or someone embarking on their artistic journey. However, it’s not simply about the final product at Calabrese Arts; the focus is on creative wellness, connecting with oneself through arts and creativity.
Continue reading to learn more about the deep-seated origins of Guenevere’s love for music and education, how that background is honored at Calabrese Arts (one hint is in the name!), and how all are welcome to explore and play together through the transformative experience of the arts in Kennett Square.
Continuing a Cultivation of Expression and Empathy
Growing up in a household resonating with the melody of classical guitar and piano, Guenevere Finley’s passion for music and the arts is intrinsically rooted. Her parents, both educators, instilled in her the importance of providing a nurturing space for self-discovery and creative expression. Guenevere honored her upbringing by choosing her maiden name to represent her business, and through unique touches in the new physical space located in the Kennett Pointe building on East Cypress Street. “The black and white cabinets were chosen for my mom’s piano, and the wooden floors represent my dad’s guitar,” Guenevere shared with a warm smile.
As Guen’s mother’s role as Music Director at Kennett High School included accompanying their annual musicals, Finley would tag along with her sister, Becca. These times solidified Guen’s decision to pursue the arts and education, leading her to gain a degree in Music Education from West Chester University. Becca shared in the family tradition, earning a theatre degree and now enhancing her role as Director of Theatre and Outreach at Calabrese Arts. The sisters’ love of music and each other is evident from continuing to perform together, running Adventures in Music summer camps beginning in 2010, and now culminating in their collaborative efforts at Calabrese Arts Co. In addition to formal education and many years of experience, including at Westtown School, Guenevere’s vision for the center is also infused with her Quaker upbringing. Principles summarized in the acronym SPICES—Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship—are woven into the instruction and work at the center, acknowledging the light in everyone.
A Legacy of Inclusivity and Support
Guided by her parents’ legacy, Guenevere and her team at Calabrese Arts Co. welcome individuals of all backgrounds, abilities, and ages. “We love working with those who experience the world differently,” Finley says. The focus on neurodivergent students stems from a genuine desire to create an inclusive environment, and the experience of Becca, a Special Education teacher and an integral instructor at Calabrese, emphasizes the commitment to a supportive environment.
Reflecting on her parents’ practice of hosting spaghetti dinners for friends and students, Guenevere reminisces: “Anyone was welcome. They understood the importance of providing a safe space for youth to come and experience acceptance.” In that same mindset, Finley and her instructors have created a safe space where all are welcome to come and simply be themselves while exploring their unique identities through the arts.
A Symphony of Learning and Joy
Guenevere’s expertise extends beyond traditional teaching methods, as she is certified in Orff-Schulwerk—a dynamic approach that intertwines music and dance. This approach encourages co-creation, where students trust their natural movements while musicians improvise, resulting in a mutual synchronistic creation. “First,” Finley shared excitedly, “you fall in love with music and experience it, leading to a true expression of oneself.” The philosophy is woven into the fabric of Calabrese Arts Co., where somatic exercises and stress-processing techniques are seamlessly integrated into lessons, creating a holistic and compassionate experience.
Arts and creativity naturally lead to connecting with one’s deeper self, which is at the heart of Calabrese Art’s student-centered approach. An incredible vocalist in her own right, Guenevere shared from personal experience that “singing, for example, is all about listening to one’s self. It’s a way of cocooning in creativity.” This internal connection opens space for a deeper understanding and acceptance. “Meeting yourself where you are is the doorway to radical acceptance,” Guenevere adds. This is the foundation of Calabrese Arts and the ultimate purpose of their work with all their students.
All are welcome to join the community at Calabrese Arts Co., where the doors are open for all to explore, connect, and play together as the transformative power of the arts meets the warmth of community, enriching lives one creative experience at a time.