MARSHALL — The Madison County Arts Council is exploring the possibility of renovations at its downtown Marshall location.
Arts Council staff attended the Madison County Board of Commissioners meeting on May 10 to present the council with a preliminary idea of the council’s intentions.
David McClurkin, chairman of the MCAC board, said he thinks the renovations will benefit the county.
“What we’re doing is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” McClurkin said. “Our future is to buy and renovate the building we are currently in. We have been there for several years. Now we have the opportunity to buy it, renovate it and make it a great place that reflects all the things we have done in the past and what we hope to continue to do for the county in the future.”
According to McClurkin, the Arts Council has served Madison County since 1978. It has operated from its downtown Marshall location — in the building that previously served as a library and department store — since 2005.
MCAC Executive Director Laura Boosinger spoke with curators about the Arts Council’s programming.
“We do a lot of stuff for everybody, and one of our special things is working a lot with young people in schools,” Boosinger said. “We supplement programming in schools through our Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program. We also work with schools each year by showcasing the art of students from Madison County schools. art from Elementary through Early College.
“The other thing we know is that people come from the streets and say, ‘Oh my God, schools in Madison County are doing this? who are not from Madison County. We are so proud to put this out there for people who come to visit our county. Youth…education is a big part of what we do. Our community is a big part of what we do, and that’s what we want to continue doing.”
McClurkin said Arts Council staff view the location as a cultural center that includes all people – residents and out-of-towners.
“The Arts Council is for the locals,” he said. “It’s for people from outside. It’s for people of modest means. It’s for people who like to come to concerts. So we want to continue to reach a large audience, and we want to expand our public in the region.
McClurkin said he hopes the Arts Council will be part of the county’s “smart growth.”
“We need retail spaces. We need entertainment venues,” McClurkin said. “But having a cultural grounding in Madison County is also important, because it’s one of the things that contributes to the quality of life here, and it’s what brings us here to live or enjoy. The county of Madison is no longer a place where people happen to be here, it’s a destination for people.
Commissioner Michael Garrison said he felt McClurkin’s term “cultural anchor” was appropriate to represent the Arts Council team’s desire to serve the county.
“I love the phrase ‘cultural anchor,'” Garrison said. “It’s a really good example of what you do that brings art and music, and the things that people do with their hands to our community, that our community embraces. So I appreciate that.”
“(Building renovations) wouldn’t result in anything super big,” McClurkin said. “It will just be something that reflects the dignity of the work we do there. It will be a comfortable place for staff. It will be a safe place for students, performers and other people. It’s going to be a showcase, not just for the Arts Council, but we’re also going to be using the venue for other people to book space, to use it for performances, gatherings, receptions and that sort of thing. ”
Rob Pulleyn, co-founder of independent publishing house Lark, specializing in craft and design books, spoke about the team’s vision.
“We want a space that will be an accessible space for everyone,” Pulleyn said. “The building will be ADA compliant. It’s the county’s central creative and cultural force. It is now, but we really want to improve on that.”
Pulleyn noted an idea for the top floor of the building: it would be accessible by elevator and would house classrooms and meeting rooms.
“The idea is that we will have courses for students, as we currently do,” Pulleyn said. “We want it to be a real community center – places where nonprofits and for-profits can come together. This will not only provide us with earned income, but reinforce the idea of a real community center. ”
There is also the hope of a gallery space.
“That’s where we’re going to be able to show what the people of Madison County are doing, but just as important, if not more important, is the history of Madison County,” Pulleyn said. “So we will be able to display historic quilts or have photos of churches, farms, small communities in Madison County. We will be able to have local artisans – potters, weavers – so that people who visit Madison Counties around the world can see who we are and what we do.”
Other planned improvements include a performance space, as well as an improved sound system and new stage, and green room for performances. It would include a location to house the wART radio station, according to Pulleyn.
“We support the cities, the businesses, the people who live here, the artisans. We support the people who have lived here for 200 years or two years,” Pulleyn said. “So this is vital to the future of Madison County.”
According to McClurkin, the Arts Council is just beginning to explore fundraising.
“We think this goal is reasonable, given the support we have and the success we’ve had so far. Just looking ahead, we think we’ll be fine.”
According to Boosinger, with the help of funds raised in the past, the Arts Council will undergo a Phase 1 renovation this summer.
“The renovation includes a lot of things, but major roof repairs, basement cleanup and chimney removal,” Roof said. “There are currently three old roofs that need to be removed, and other structural elements need to be repaired or modified.”