A Conversation with Johnny Veres

LoveMGM speaks with Johnny Veres of The Sanctuary, a safe place for art in Montgomery, Alabama.

Johnny Veres by Jonathon Kohn
photo by Jonathon Kohn

Some of Montgomery’s younger residents are creating interesting spaces and innovative events that are adding a new level of excitement, culture and community to the capital city. One is 32-year-old Montgomery native Johnny Veres. He shared his thoughts on a particularly cool spot he helps run called The Sanctuary.

photo by Jonathon Kohn

lovemgm: What’s your “day job”?

I’m an Independent Design Professional. I have a background in architecture, but I’ve expanded my work since starting on my own in December 2014. I do anything from design, design-build, graphic design, computer rendering, and event design/planning/execution.

lovemgm: What is The Sanctuary? 

The Sanctuary is a community supported Arts and Cultural Venue located at 432 South Goldthwaite in Five Points near Cottage Hill. Our Venue is a Carpenter Gothic Chapel built in 1887 by the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. It was converted into a community venue for the Montgomery Little Theater in the 1950s and then the Jubilee Community Center in the 1990s. We work to provide a community space for creative events and programs. We also provide an affordable venue for community use outside of our programming.

lovemgm: What is your involvement with The Sanctuary?

I am the Building Overseer and Program Director. I took over management of the Space when the Jubilee Community Center and Helicity Partnered to create The Sanctuary.

lovemgm: What types of events are hosted at The Sanctuary? 

A wide variety! We have everything from musical performances, including songwriter showcases and original band concerts, and art programs with events like the city’s only live-figure drawing class (which is open to the public) to community organizing events, lecture series, yoga wellness classes, art shows, receptions and occasional private events.

lovemgm: Describe some recent events.

Last Thursday, we hosted the Chamber of Commerce’s event “Art in the Dark” in which seven local galleries came together to showcase the wide variety of local Montgomery talent. The following Friday and Saturday, we played the film “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and had live actors and bands perform the musical acts. On Sunday, the Yoga Wellness Center hosted a full day of yoga practical exams where the community could participate for only $5 per class.

lovemgm: Talk a little about Helicity and how it intersects with The Sanctuary.

Helicity’s mission is to be a catalyst for the continued cultural and social growth of Montgomery and surrounding areas through art and community engagement. The Sanctuary was born when Helicity and the Jubilee Community Center formed a partnership to explore and implement new community uses for the facilities on the Jubilee Campus. The previous programming’s funding had come to an end, and the JCC asked Helicity to help come up with a new use plan that would benefit a wider section of our community. The project is a great fit for Helicity’s mission!

lovemgm: Why is a place like The Sanctuary important to our community?

The Sanctuary is an independently funded community center that works to fill the gaps in arts and cultural programming for the community. With the mantra, “A Safe Place for Art,” we work to facilitate cultural and artistic expression that might otherwise not find an outlet. We celebrate diversity and cherish providing cultural learning opportunities through creative events and programming. Our objective is to bring greater understanding and acceptance of the unique cultural aspects of an individual through the support of creative endeavors.

If you’d like to consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Sanctuary, would like more information or want to volunteer, please email helicity.mgm@gmail.com.

lovemgm: Thanks, Johnny!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here