$2M capital campaign will help Arts Center increase programming
Demand for more Arts After School classes has increased.
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JAMESTOWN – Increased demand for children’s programming at The Arts Center is the main reason behind a $2 million capital campaign announced in early March, said Mindi Schmitz, executive director.
“We have waiting lists for every Arts After School class and so we need more classroom space,” she said.
We know that art matters and this is a place where they can do it. Our cornerstone program here is Arts After School and we hate turning kids away.
The nonprofit Jamestown Fine Arts Association, which has operated The Arts Center for almost 60 years, will use funds from the “Raising the Bar for the Arts” campaign to purchase the former Wonder Bar building next door and convert it into a multi-purpose arts space. Although the campaign theme is a play on words for the building purchase, it also reflects the need to “raise the bar” for the arts in Jamestown, Schmitz said.
“All of the visits that we’ve had to community leaders (about the project) are very positive,” Schmitz said. “‘... We know that art matters and this is a place where they can do it. Our cornerstone program here is Arts After School and we hate turning kids away.”
More than $860,000 has already been raised and the campaign is expected to be complete by May 1, Schmitz said. Construction will begin May 2, and a grand opening on the project is planned in July 2024.
The project includes providing more classrooms and bathrooms, a gallery/commons, multipurpose outdoor area, studios and a living/work space upstairs, where regional or national artists may stay when they come to Jamestown.
The current classroom in the existing Arts Center will become a culinary kitchen for classes.
Closing the gap
While Arts After School programming has grown, there are still needs that have not yet been met, Schmitz said. The project will help close that gap.
“We’re going to expand kids’ programming to include middle school and younger grades because right now we’re just 3 through 6th grade,” she said.
In the 2021-22 school year, 12 to 15 students could attend Arts After School, with 30 sessions that school year. After the renovation, they expect to serve 56 students per school year.
Caroline Stoterau said she’s been going to Arts After School since the second grade. The now-fifth grader said the teachers have helped her improve her art.
“I just put my art in the annual show for the first time and all of my pieces sold,” she said. “I never would have been able to do that if I didn’t have the support from all of the people that work at The Arts Center, and I don’t think I could be where I am today without them.”
Schmitz noted The Arts Center offers a scholarship program to help children who need financial assistance to attend Arts After School. Out of the 17 children attending, five are doing so through the scholarship program.
“And that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “That means five kids who couldn’t go got scholarships to attend programming.”
There are naming opportunities with the capital campaign. For more information, contact The Arts Center at 251-2496.