Homer Council on the Arts is on the cusp of a long-awaited expansion project. The plan is to upgrade the existing structure and add a large yurt as a new performance and gathering area. In the end, they hope to have a space that can hold nearly 200 audience members and accommodate a wide range of performing arts.
KBBI’s Shady Grove Oliver spoke with Homer Council on the Arts Executive Director Peggy Paver about the project:
OLIVER: Just to start off, could you tell me a little bit of the background on this project? How did HCOA come to the idea that it would need to expand?
PAVER: The board has really been wanting to expand for quite some time. They’ve been talking about it for more than a decade. I don’t think a lot of people really know that but it’s something they’ve thought about repeatedly and they’ve looked at all different kinds of alternatives. This is actually the second time in that decade that a yurt was offered from our local yurt-building company. It’s a huge space. They were offering a good discount on a 50-foot yurt, which is just shy of 2,000 square feet. And so, we’ve just decided it’s time to go because we need the space, we know the community has been asking for it for years, and it just is going to be a win-win all the way around.
OLIVER: I know that along with adding the yurt, there are some expansions planned for the existing building as well. What are you hoping for the full space?
PAVER: It’s really kind of threefold. So, we had some things maintenance-wise that needed to be done on the building. We needed a new roof. It needs to be painted still. We’ve got some drainage issues that we really need to address in a little more permanent way. And then, our bathrooms are not ADA-accessible.
Our overall idea, if we get everything we want, is to have the main floor be a little bit smaller gallery space and then it will have a community gathering space that you’ll be able to close doors off of, so it could be for meetings or for small classes. We could hold about 25 people in there.
And then, we would also increase our rental space so that we have three rental spaces. We currently have two. The income we get from those two rental spaces covers our mortgage. So, to have a third one would really help us with the added expenses of running a bigger facility. We really want to keep sustainability in mind. That’s probably one of my biggest focuses on this whole project is to make sure it’s sustainable.
Ideally, we’d like to have the basement actually be included as part of the interior of the building. Right now, there is a basement and most people don’t even know about it. I guess it used to house a family a long time ago. It has a full bathroom in there with a shower and it’s just this kind of weird, unfinished space that we have this idea of creating a kitchen down there, so that if there are events, either in the yurt or in the gallery itself, that need a kitchen we’ll have that available.
Then [we have the idea] to use the rest of that downstairs area as artist makerspace. We could offer some very inexpensive spaces for people to create together.
OLIVER: Could you talk a little bit about the breakdown of how you’re planning to pay for these expansions. What funding is still up in the air and what’s left to cover?
PAVER: What I’ve kind of been figuring – and this is all fluid – this is all a projection of what we’re hoping for right now – we’ve got our own Homer Council on the Arts refinance at $50,000. Our capital fund campaign that started just in the first week in January now stands at $54,252 and that’s community donations. We have a letter of intent out to the Murdoch Foundation down in Washington state for $180,750 and they’re very specific about what they want to cover, so we targeted some areas that they are particularly interested in giving financial support for. Then, we have Rasmuson [Foundation] Tier 1 and also Tier 2 [grants] that we have targeted for about $100,000 total. Then, we’re hoping to garner almost $50,000 from the community in in-kind and in contributions.
We’re looking at about $468,000 total and again, this is a projection. I tend to project expenses like that pretty conservatively, so I think it’s on the high end of what it could end up costing us, especially if we get a lot of in-kind contribution.
OLIVER: And finally, looking at the big picture, what do you hope will come at the other end of this. You know, once it’s all done, what do you hope for?
PAVER: I want to see a center that is for all members of our community, that provides arts in many ways, both in participation, in performance, in being able to come in and volunteer, in coming into the gallery space, in being able to come in and create with other folks that are interested in the same genre that you’re interested in, just to provide a center that is truly an arts center and has all facets of art available.
You know, one of the things that captivated me about this organization before I came up here when I was looking at what they were about is that they’re really committed to community members, whatever their area or focus or expertise or socioeconomic status. Homer Council on the Arts was founded on the idea that art stirs our souls and that’s what brings us together as humans and that we support each other. Even though we may not agree on everything, we can agree to disagree but still participate in something that’s meaningful and lasting. I really believe that’s what the arts are.