Arts group has plans for former high school site
by Mike Eldred
Mar 07, 2017 | 2511 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) announced funding priorities for 14 projects under its federal Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) program.

The announcement was made at a press conference at the former high school building in Wilmington, highlighting two Wilmington projects that made the list.

Development of Julie Lineberger’s “Wheel Pad” project was ranked number six on the list of vital projects in the region. Wheel Pad builds portable, semi-self-contained, handicap-accessible residential modules that can be attached to an existing dwelling, adding instant accessibility for people who are returning to their home after a significant injury with ongoing medical needs. Lineberger’s project was profiled in The Deerfield Valley News on November 3.

The Wilmington Old School Enrichment Center also made the list, coming in at number 11. Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Executive Director and Wilmington School Board Chair Adam Grinold said the project was vital to the town’s economic well-being. “For Wilmington, the old school project is not just a priority, it’s a necessity,” he said. “That this building continues to stand empty and unsold after five years of consolidation speaks to the challenges ahead. We have, today, a group of experienced and dedicated citizens who, when they look at this building, see an asset, not a liability. I know I do not stand alone in my appreciation that this project has been recognized as not only a necessity for the community, but a priority for the region.”

Members of the Old School Enrichment Center Council, the group currently in negotiations with the school district to take over the building, was on hand to give guided tours of the former school building.

Although school board and OSEC members have kept mum on their deal with the district during negotiations, it was revealed that the OSEC Council has partnered with Vermont ArtWorks, a group led by Gary Henry and Daniel Kasnitz, for a combined community and arts center. According to members of both groups, the arts component adds viability to their plan for a self-sustaining organization.

OSEC’s vision of providing a space for public use as well as essential community services to support local families is unchanged.

But the partnership with Vermont ArtWorks “greatly expands the opportunities and reach of possible revenue streams for the operation. From community-accessible audio and video production facilities, to spaces to host all-ages open stage performances, to extensive gallery and studio space and far beyond, the rejuvenated campus will bring the arts to people and people to the arts in a way that is inclusive with the many other functions we all want to see happening at the site. The old school will become not just a community center, not just an arts hub, but an integrated community cultural center.”

According to an outline of Vermont ArtWorks’ proposal, the arts center will seek to contribute revenue from sponsorships and marketing, lease of space, grants and patron donations, broadcast and sale of content, and live events.

Vermont ArtWorks plans to offer education in the arts; access to the arts through broadcast, performance, and recording; and “umbrella” support services for artists and organizations, including accounting, marketing, advertising, IT, and branding.

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