Danville, Ky – The Art Center of the Bluegrass is embarking on a $3.6 million capital campaign to restore the historic property at 415 W. Main Street and to start a national glass museum featuring the works of Stephen Rolfe Powell – but they won’t be doing it alone. With leadership support from the City of Danville and Centre College, along with community input and expertise, the Art Center is building a diverse coalition of partners to bring the project to fruition.
“This is a community effort,” says Executive Director Niki Kinkade. “The Art Center is the catalyst, but the benefit and impact of the expansion will benefit our entire region and state, and it’s exciting to see so much support as we set forth.”
Kinkade explains that the City of Danville was the first key partner in the ‘ArtSee Expansion Campaign,’ with their purchase of the building using funds made available via the American Rescue Plan Act. Danville city attorney Stephen Dexter explains that, coming out of the impact of COVID, one use of ARPA funds was to try to jumpstart tourism and community involvement which had been lost due to the pandemic.
Mayor J.H. Atkins says, “The combination of historic preservation and expanded arts programming is a perfect example of transformative community development and we anticipate that this project will bring substantial benefit to the city in the form of cultural tourism and enhanced quality of life for our citizens.”
Centre College will also play a pivotal role in the ArtSee campaign. The Art Center has received a pledge of up to $1 million from an anonymous donor with connections to the College. The fund will flow through Centre College to the Art Center in the form of a matching grant. The Art Center has until December of this year to raise matching funds for the million-dollar gift. “This is a huge opportunity for individuals and businesses to leverage their contributions,” explains Kinkade. “Every gift made to the ArtSee campaign this year will be doubled, thanks to the matching grant.”
The Art Center has engaged the services of architect Garlan VanHook to lead the renovation work for the new building. VanHook brings decades of experience to the project, with his professional focus on historic preservation of Central Kentucky architecture. Examples of his work can be seen in Stanford, KY, such as the Blue Bird Restaurant/Café infill project, the restoration of the L & N Railroad Depot, and multiple Main Street retail storefronts.
Kinkade explains that the architectural design work will be informed by community input into programming and use of space at the new building. “We are looking to the community to tell us what kinds of programs they would like to see,” explains Kinkade. The Art Center has launched a community survey, available at the Art Center and via their Facebook page to solicit feedback and ideas. They have also surveyed area teachers about educational programming to support students and have met with local artists and community stakeholders.
The Contractor for the project is Jeremy Shepard from Shepard’s Construction. Jeremy has a long history working on local and regional projects and is enthusiastic about working on a project like this one, one that has such a strong community impact.
Interior designer Liz Betack has been tapped to help design a café space on the first floor of the new building that will feature wine, charcuterie, and small bites. “The focus of this entire project is on combining functionality with aesthetics,” explains Kinkade. “The adaptive reuse of the historic property for arts programming means that the look and use of the building go hand-in-hand. One informs the other.”
Kinkade explains that there are many opportunities for community members to be involved in the ArtSee campaign. “There are donation levels for every budget. We want everyone to feel like they can make a meaningful contribution to this incredible project.” Details about the capital campaign are available on the Art Center website, including opportunities for naming rights of programming spaces, ways to pledge, budget details, and upcoming campaign events.