Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Work begins on lumberyard arts center

September 24, 2003

The lumberyard transformation is underway.

Work to change the old downtown lumberyard into a community arts center has begun.

Sandy Cardens said there have already been several Saturday work sessions as volunteers begin changing the building at the corner of Eighth and High streets into the Lumberyard Arts Center.

"People are just stepping up and doing it," Cardens said.

The goal, she said, is to transform the former lumberyard building into a community arts center that will house exhibits, classrooms and a theater for art, music and drama projects and events. She said the plan is to have the building completed by June 2005.

"We envision this as something that's going to be a credit to the Baldwin community for years and years," she said.

During recent work days, she said, volunteers have cleaned and painted the building, especially the two front rooms of the lumberyard.

"It's primarily been cosmetic," she said. "We know we're going to have more construction work that needs to be done."

She said the next step is to smooth out the driveway, which will eventually become a courtyard, in time for Maple Leaf Festival. Twelve exhibitor booths will be set up in the building for the annual festival. Proceeds from the booths will benefit the Lumberyard Arts Center project.

An information booth, with brochures explaining the arts center project, will also be set up in the building.

Cardens said the brochures, which include contribution forms, will soon also be found in businesses around Baldwin.

Work sessions have ended until the Maple Leaf Festival, but will start again shortly after the festival's end, she said. Not only will volunteers be needed for work sessions, Cardens said funding and contributions of materials are also needed.

"At this point, what would help more than anything are monetary contributions," she said.

The project is expected to cost $400,000 to $500,000, she said. The arts center committee has already begun applying for grants, but, she said, they are often matching grants and require some show of support from the community before they are awarded.

She said the project did receive acceptance in the National Heritage Foundation, which will also help in applying for grants.

"They look more favorably on recognized foundations than on startups like we were," she said.

Cardens said even though the project is off to a good start, and the committee has received verbal agreements for help and contributions from a Kansas State University architecture class and several local businesses and contractors, much more will be needed.

"We're a long way from having what we need," she said. "I want people to keep coming out of the woodwork and I want them to keep offering help. This is going to be a long process."

There are plans to continue using the building while work is in progress. Cardens said the Baldwin Community Arts Council plans to have its holiday arts center in the lumberyard. She said she would also like to find enough volunteers to be able to have a haunted house for Halloween.

Those interested in finding out more about the arts center project can visit the Web site at www.lumberyardartscenter.org. Those wanting to contribute or volunteer can call Cardens at 594-4261 or Diane and Jim Niehoff at 594-3244.

"Everybody's excited about this," Cardens said. "This is just going to be a wonderful addition to downtown."

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