Homer Council on the Arts Looks to the Future

Shady Grove Oliver

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     Homer Council on the Arts has always had a mission. It was formed in 1975 to support the cultural arts in the Kachemak Bay area. It grew out of the Homer Concert Association when there was a growing interest within the community for a formal art space and more developed programs.

     Now, forty years later, the council is looking for ways to expand and rejuvenate its mission to make it relevant for today’s community.

     A few years ago, HCOA started Creative Communities and CART, or Community Art. It opened up the HCOA space for artists with similar interests to get together and just make art. There was one group, composed of singers.

     “So that group went Christmas caroling together," says Gail Edgerly, executive director of HCOA. "One of the women works in the community as a nurse, so she organized the route for us. We went to people that were homebound. It was so wonderful and the people loved it so much that it [started] this idea of- why don’t we bring art to these people who are stuck at home and their families?”

     That program received such overwhelming feedback that Edgerly wants to see it expand. Rather than just singing, it could bring all kinds of art into the homes of people who aren’t otherwise able to go out and see it.

     But, HCOA has hit the typical roadblock- funding. Edgerly says she’s applied for funds to get this project off the ground in a more formal way, with hired staff, but so far, that hasn’t panned out. Now, she’s turning to individuals.

     “My hope is that I can form a group in the community that really believes in this project and will help me create it and get it going,” says Edgerly.

     She’s also hoping to use the HCOA website as a CART database of sorts. Edgerly says if all of the people involved in CART get on the site’s artist registry, and all of the artists listed have the option of getting involved, it will be a more efficient set-up.

    “Then, the artists that are working together to go out into the community could use our space, get together and plan and rehearse to go out into the community," says Edgerly. "So, it’s sort of a circle of using our space, trying to bring the artists together and community and then going back out into the community and serving through art.”

     That idea of bringing people together through art is expanding HCOA’s sights outside of Homer. Edgerly says this CART program has the potential to be a bridge for art across the bay.

     “I also want to extend that to the villages – Nanwalek and Port Graham – and talk to them too about is there a way we could also help serve those communities in some kind of exchange through art,” says Edgerly.

     HCOA is also looking for ways to better utilize the space it has now. It’s in the planning stage of a much larger project – a full renovation of the HCOA art space and property to make it more useful, efficient, and attractive.

     So far, the council has a preliminary floor plan for the new design. It also has a cost estimate. Edgerly says now, the council has to decide whether or not to dedicate itself to the capital campaign, secure funding, and go ahead with the remodel.

     “Number one, it’s to make our building more energy efficient," says Edgerly. "Number two, it’s to make it handicap accessible, not only getting into the building but with accessible bathrooms, which we really need to do. And the third thing we want to do is create spaces that are contained. So, we want to make these spaces so they’re usable in a much more effective way at any time of the day or night.”

     There is one change HCOA will complete this summer. The Etude art studio is going to be taken down.

     “The Epperson family donated it to Homer Council on the Arts a few years ago and it’s deemed not reparable," says Edgerly. "It’s just not worth putting any money into it. So, we’re going to be taking it down sometime in August.”

     As part of the general trend of revitalizing old town Homer, HCOA is considering daylighting the stream on its property. Edgerly says these changes will hopefully make Homer Council on the Arts a more progressive and responsible steward of art in this community as a whole.



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