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Holmes Center for the Arts ready to start fundraising for a facility of its own

By TAMI MOSSER Staff Writer Published: February 11, 2017 5:00 AM

MILLERSBURG -- Though it's been just two years since its incorporation, the Holmes Center for the Arts already is bursting at the seams at its temporary home on North Washington Street.

What had previously been a Methodist church now houses both the center and Pathway Pentecostals, which means the largest room -- the sanctuary -- doubles as a worship space and a dance studio, with the dance floors rolled up and stored when the chairs are unstacked and placed for church members.

There are other rooms, HCA Executive Director Holley Johnson said, which provide limited space for everything from string lessons to ballroom dance classes and chorus rehearsals.

While not a particularly ideal situation, Johnson said, it's worked well enough to this point.

"I would love to be in a new building in two years," she said. "I'd love it to be less than that, but I don't know if that's possible."

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But the fundraising is getting underway.

Johnson said she envisions corporate sponsorships that would result in naming rights for different rooms and sections of a new center. And to that end, the center is off to a good start, with a donation from long-time West Holmes High School teacher Lillian Duncan, who died in December at the age of 98. Because of that gift, the center eventually will include the Lillian Duncan Dance Studio.

The board has "a few places we kind of keep our eye on," according to Johnson, "but nothing perfect enough to move forward." There are a number of ideas -- renovating a building, building a new facility and adding in phases among them -- but what eventually happens will be dependent on the amount of community financial support the project gets. "We could go as simple as changing a warehouse into a bunch of dance studios," Johnson said.

But ideally, the center would have multiple studio spaces for the dance program, which already has 80 children enrolled, as well as offering four sessions of ballroom dance for adults. There would be a performance space, maybe a black box theater, that could house both HCA productions as well as guest artists and companies. "We use (West Holmes High School) now," Johnson said. "But everyone uses the high school." And the upcoming performance of the HCA production of "Our Town" -- a first for the center -- will be staged at New Pointe Community Church on state Route 39.

Having dedicated space also will allow the center to take the pottery wheels recently purchased from the Wayne Center for the Arts out of basement storage and begin that program. An instructor is available, Johnson said, "but finding a space, we don't feel like we can run a kiln in the building" unless there is proper infrastructure and venting.

Though the type of building is still in question, the location is more in focus. The center needs to remain central to Holmes County and it is hoped it will grow into a community center with after-school programs, Johnson said, through off-site classes, like the drawing and painting courses offered in Berlin and Winesburg.

The center has no membership fee and relies on program fees, corporate sponsors and grant funding for its programming and operations. "We have good support from the community," Johnson said. "It's time to really take off with our building fund."

Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at tmosser@the-daily-record.com or 330-287-1655.


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