Arts Place Kicks off Capital Campaign
The Arts Place of Stokes in historic Danbury is closer to becoming a reality. On Friday night, the arts council gave the first of three tours over the weekend to kick off their capital campaign.
The vision of The Arts Place is to be the cultural, entertainment, and visitor center hub of Stokes County, showcasing local and regional artisans and musicians through exhibits, a retail market, and regular performances for the community and visitors alike. Residents and artisans will participate through continuing education classes and community groups will utilize the facilities for meetings and events.
Having a three mile proximity to Hanging Rock State Park, the 2012 NC State Park of the Year, assures that The Arts Place will provide an important economic and community benefit to Stokes County for years to come.
“This is a momentous occasion,” said Stokes Arts Council Director Eddy McGee. “For 41 years the arts council has been in existence and we appreciate the support. Stokes Arts has a legacy and that’s what we wanted to continue with this project.”
While construction is still underway, McGee said contractors are ahead of schedule and expected to finish as early as December with a grand opening tentatively planned for January, 2017.
Funding for the project began in 2010 and since then nearly $880,000 has been raised, with 99 percent of the funds coming from outside of Stokes County.
The initial contributor was the Apple Foundation, followed by Duke Energy Foundation, The Cannon Foundation, and the Dickson Family Foundation.
“That’s a good thing, but we need to have the local investment as well,” McGee said.
While The Arts Place is intended for Stokes County, McGee knows it’s imperative the facility draw in tourists from Hanging Rock. The state park has already seen more than 300,000 people since January 1, a nine percent increase compared to last year, according to park superintendent Robin Riddlebarger.
Many visitors coming to the area are looking for things to do outside of the park during their stay, and up until now have had few options.
The Arts Place is slated to provide concerts, workshops, events, shopping, a coffee shop, and studio space.
“That’s part of the success of the arts council now. You’ve got to have enough revenue streams because when something falls off you’re bringing in other funding. We have a reputation through the state of being good stewards. We’re efficient stewards of our resources.”
McGee has overseen the arts council since 2004 and understands the components to make the venture a success. Recently he was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory as part of a 24-member board designed to advise the Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources on the policies and programs of the N.C. Arts Council.
“We have an amazing board and volunteers here. These people have been in the trenches. I think this is exceeding our expectations,” he said. “We’ve saved a 100-year-old building. This is historical preservation of our traditions, our music, our arts and crafts. It’s economic development that will promote tourism and employee people. We’ve come a long way.”
The arts council is offering group or individual tours of the new state-of-the-art facility by calling 336-593-8159.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.