YS Arts Council finds new home
- Published: February 16, 2012
When the Yellow Springs Arts Council moved to its new gallery space on Corry Street last month, the group was following the mission prescribed by the community: grow in capacity and keep art and public art events vibrant in Yellow Springs. With a larger board, a membership list that continues to grow, and some kind of art event in the village nearly every week, Arts Council feels it is doing its job to help the arts support the local economy in Yellow Springs.
The new Arts Council home at 111 Corry Street is an expansion of its former space at Oten Gallery. The new building, owned by Bob Baldwin and formerly occupied by Dolbeers Cleaners and the Rolling Pen Book Cafe, has about 1,400 square feet of gallery space divided into two rooms, which the group hopes to use for art openings, salon discussions, art classes and music events.
While the Oten Gallery did provide an artistic setting and a beautiful outdoor patio, the bustle of an Arts Council run largely by volunteers and operating out of multiple spaces was overwhelming for gallery owner Alan MacBeth’s needs, according to Arts Council Board President Jerome Borchers. In addition, while the Oten is located on a busy state route somewhat apart from the heart of downtown, the Corry Street space allows easy connection to the larger village-wide events and street parties that the Arts Council would like to promote. The paved patio out front could be an outdoor space for smaller events, while Corry Street can be closed off (without permission from the Ohio Department of Transportation) for bigger community events, such as Artoberfest, Cirque Carnivale and last year’s spontaneous reggae party in the street.
“We’re really excited about the synergies that could happen with Corry and Dayton streets to provide a larger outside venue for community events,” Borchers said.
In additional to the gallery expansion, Arts Council received permission from Village Council on Monday to use a space on the third floor of the Bryan Center as an office and records storage. In the past, Arts Council used its gallery spaces as its office, and was constantly tasked with moving desks, chairs and files for gallery openings or performance events. The most recent move allows the group to utilize the entire Corry Street space for art events and classes, while having its records nearby but off site, said Borchers, who is grateful to the Village for its support.
Arts Council continues to lead the search for a new and more permanent Center for the Arts facility in the village, perhaps in connection with the needs of Antioch College for a similar performance space. And while campus leaders have been engaged in ongoing discussions about how to partner with the community to meet common campus and community needs, the college is still busy grappling with a master plan for college facilities, according to college Communications Director Gariot Louima.
Meanwhile, Arts Council is using its time to grow and mature into a well organized operation. The Morgan Family Foundation renewed the group’s annual grant to cover the rent plus several small stipends for an administrative staff. The support helps to retain Joanne Caputo as the arts and cultural manager, Kim Kremer as the bookkeeper and database manager, Emily Elliot to manage membership, Nancy Mellon as the gallery coordinator, and Susan Gartner and Corrine Bayraktaroglu to oversee marketing and a Web presence.
Arts Council membership has grown to about 185, but the group aims to increase the level of participation to 500 members in order to raise revenue and be able to increase its reach. The group helps teach new artists about marketing and how to retain financial support, and would also like to offer arts classes for local residents and youth, Caputo said.
Since an Arts Council-backed visioning effort in 2007 tasked Arts Council with ensuring support for local artists and art venues, such as the Little Art Theatre, a new performing arts center and more public art and village-wide “chautauqua” events, Borchers feels proud to say that the group has moved forward on most of its charges. The group itself has built capacity, the Little Art has a new nonprofit board, the village has at least five new public art installations and the group has partnered with businesses and organizations in town to hold three Yellow Springs Experiences and several other events, such as two multi-media concerts at Oten and this weekend’s Love-In.
“We’ve been following our promise and our mission to support more art venues and more art activity,” Borchers said. And while the group works toward eventually creating a new arts facility, Arts Council continues to gain experience about what works and what doesn’t work. The activity of using the “village as a center for the arts is still valuable as a concept,” Borchers said. And the more people that can get involved now, the more mature the organization will be when the time is right to create a permanent facility, he said.