A place to imagine.
That's the slogan for the new Lawrence Arts Center, and nothing could be more descriptive of what has kept director Ann Evans and her staff going over the past 10 years when plans for a new or renovated arts center seemed to bog down.
But the waves of uncertainty have finally calmed. Next Sunday afternoon, Evans will grip the handle of a shovel and turn over the earth at the new $7.6 million arts center site in the 900 block of New Hampshire.
The ground-breaking ceremony will be coupled with the art center's 25th anniversary celebration.
While the new site is a dream come true, Evans said saying goodbye to the 10,000-square-foot Carnegie library building at 200 W. Ninth, which the arts center has called home for a quarter-century, isn't going to be easy.
"We've been good for the building, and the building has been good to us," she said. "We have taken full advantage of everything we have (here) but it's just not adequate."
The arts center is expected to make the move into its new 40,000-square-foot digs in about two years.
The center has already raised $2.5 million for the new facility and will raise another $500,000, Evans said.
"In the next few weeks, we will start a public (fund-raising) drive," she said.
The new facility, designed by Glenn Livingood Penzler Miller architects, will have a contemporary facade of gray brick, glass and metal.
"Brick is a traditional downtown building material that lasts a long time, but we've used it in a slightly nontraditional way," project designer Jody Brown said in a news release. "The gray tone, with mortar tinted to match, will give the facade a clean, monolithic look. The way the front of the building curves in and out also lends a more sculptural quality, and the metal highlights provide contrast to make the brick pop."
The new center will have room for a performance hall; new studios for classes in painting, drawing, ceramics, printmaking, jewelry, writing and dance; preschool classrooms; exhibition and sales galleries; and offices for center staff and community arts groups.
The arts center building will be owned by the city; the arts center will lease the building and be responsible for the programs offered there.
Because of the increase in space and additional classes that will be offered, the budget and staff for the arts center will need to grow, Evans said. The center's budget now is more than $900,000, excluding utility costs and the major maintenance provided by the city.
Evans, however, knows the money will be there after all, it's something she can imagine.
"What I learned (from this project) is that things work out, and they work out for the best," Evans said. " But I knew all along the people of the community were behind us."