CNY Arts Center explore new facility

By Debra J. Groom

CNY Arts Center has an opportunity to put all of its locations under one roof and expand its space to provide more arts events to the city.

But, it needs money.

Executive Director Nancy Fox said a building has been donated to the center, but directors need about $35,000 to gain title to the building and probably another $170,000 to make needed renovations.

Arts center officials  put out a call for donations last week when it mailed its membership renewals for 2014.

Fox said it’s also the end of the year when many individuals and organizations made donations.

“We want to take title and we want to be sure we can afford this building,” Fox said. “Now with people making end-of-the-year giving, we thought it wa a good time to get this news out.”

The former Rite Aid pharmacy located at 503 S. Second St., Fulton has been vacant for nearly two years and the owner has offered to donate it to CNY Arts Center. The building has 14,000 square feet of space.

A notice on the CNY Arts Center website states “just think — 150-seat theatre, 1,250 square foot art gallery, classrooms, coffee bar, dance studio, movie screen, conference room, graphics lab and more!”

“We couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this location, right at the southern entrance to the city on Route 481 with great visibility, parking and access,” Fox said.

“It offers us room to bring all our services together under one roof including theater, an art gallery, a coffee bar, classrooms. a dance studio and more.”

“Of course, it comes with a hefty price tag for renovations and updating so we’re  investigating our options and resources,” Fox said.

Right now, the center’s main site is in the basement of the State St. Methodist Church. She said this site has parking challenges along with accessibility difficulties because it is down stairs.

“The State St. Methodist Church has been wonderfully patient and supportive while we took our first baby steps as an organization,” Fox said. “We’ve grown and learned and we now know what our real needs are.

“The possibility of putting down roots for the arts center all on one level where everyone can easily find us and with ample parking is worth exploring,” she said.

Grants through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and the federal government are available, but Fox said the center must take title to the building first. That’s why the first $35,000 for the taxes and the architect rendering and feasibility study is needed.

“This is scary but very exciting,” Fox said. “Even though we’re aware of the longevity a project like this can take, we’re launching several events and fundraisers to meet the first costs for engineering assessment and architectural renderings.”

Once the initial $35,000 for the taxes and study are obtained, center officials will apply for government grants and appeal to local governments and businesses for donations.

“This arts center will have an economic impact on the community with potential jobs and countless opportunities for art entrepreneurs,” Fox said. “Once we are in one location, they’ll get in the habit of coming out.”

One of the first fundraisers is the Gifts of the Season Dinner Cabaret,  set for 6 p.m. Dec. 14 in the current Arts Center at 357 State St. Methodist Church in Fulton.

An elegant dinner serenaded by harpist Marcella begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by an evening of musical entertainment from a variety of local performers.

Tickets are limited and available online at www.CNYArtsCenter.com. No tickets will be available at the door.

The CNY Arts Center is just three years old, having been founded in early 2011  by Fox. She had written a letter to the editor of The Valley News discussing her love for the arts and wondering if anyone else in the Fulton area shared her love.

“Fourteen people showed up for the first meeting,” she said. “I think people want the arts and they are really passionate about having it here.”

To contribute to a building fund or for more information visit www.CNYArtsCenter.com or  call 592-3373.

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