For the past 10 years, Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center has offered classes and culture-focused entertainment in a historic building on West Beau Street, across from the county courthouse in Washington.
Now, the arts organization is moving to a place with a very different feel.
"We'll be going from our historic, 1860s Italian Renaissance building on Beau Street to our newly renovated facility that has a funky, Andy Warhol-like atmosphere," said Sandee Umbach, founder and board president of Wash Arts.
From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, the public can attend an open house in the group's new home at 70 South St.
The open house will be the first in a series of events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wash Arts.
"In addition to refreshments and live entertainment, we'll also have children's art demonstrations and activities and a hula-hoop contest," Mrs. Umbach said. "Additionally, Alex Riedel, our music director, will show attendees around our new recording studio."
What the public will see Saturday is the first phase of a three-phase project. Still to come is the installation of a 75-seat theater for plays by the Wash Arts theater department as well as for plays, recitals and other events organized by the community.
The third phase will include the enclosure of an outdoor space for a gallery and solarium.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local officials will be held at noon next Thursday.
During the ribbon-cutting, county commissioners will color in the first segments of a mural drawn on the wall of one of the visual arts classrooms by artist and Wash Arts instructor Jeff Katrencik. Throughout the year, members of the community will be able to paint additional sections of the mural until it is finished.
Classes are scheduled to start Sept. 24 in the new location.
The new facility initially will have seven rooms, including a multipurpose room; recording studio; a youth and an adult visual arts room; pottery studio; metal-smithing room; and an additional classroom.
Waller Corp. of Washington completed the renovation.
Mrs. Umbach said she was pleased with the work done by Waller Corp. "They are not only a hometown business, but they really went above and beyond to help us," she said.
Mark Lagston of Mark Stephen Design of Washington added a lot of what Mrs. Umbach called "hip, urban colors," such as red, deep blue, purple and terra cotta.
The 6,000-square-foot building was paid for with a $300,000 Local Share Gaming Account grant, an additional $300,000 matching grant from the state and about $200,000 from the county for American Disabilities Act improvements that made the new facility completely accessible. Washington Financial Bank donated an additional $10,000, and another $10,000 to $15,000 was donated by private individuals, corporations and businesses.
"Wash Arts has brought much in the way of culture to the city and has helped educate adults, young people and the youth of low-income families in the fine arts," said Washington Mayor Branda Davis, who took a Wash Arts guitar class several years ago after moving to Washington from Canton.
"Wash Arts is bringing life back to South Street through the new center and, as mayor, I'd like to thank everyone who has put in their time, money and effort into the renovation project. Through Wash Arts programming, children get involved with a positive activity which gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride."
The new facility will enable Wash Arts to move classes, performances and other events outdoors. Eventually, tables and chairs will be placed outside for coffee house-style, al fresco activities.
"For a year and a half, we didn't know whether or not we'd keep some of the space in the Beau Street location until we were certain if the new building would be able to accommodate all our activities," Mrs. Umbach said.
"Now that we realize we'll be vacating the Beau Street site, we've seen a lot of nostalgic tears. However, the new site has given us a renewed sense of purpose, and we hope to serve better the public at our South Street location."
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.