A new cultural center for Saline is just beginning to take shape.
About 20 people gathered at Stone Arch Arts and Events Tuesday to see what members of the community brainstormed at two previous visioning sessions. Interested parties will no split into three groups to study funding, location options, and other arts and culture centers. The next meeting is planned for 7 p.m., April 8, at Saline City Hall.
(For more information, visit www.design-hub.com/culturalcenter)
The process was started by the city’s arts and culture committee – though members of the committee are quick to stress that no local tax dollars will be used for any future project.
Nancy Byers, co-owner of Stone Arch Arts & Events and a member of the arts and culture committee, said Saline is taking “baby steps” toward a new cultural center.
“We’re still doing the ground work. We’re forming three groups to study funding, locations and other centers to see what works and what doesn’t. Each step of the way, we’re going to ask, ‘Should we move forward?’” Byers said. “So far, the answer is yes.”
Byers said there is an appetite for a comprehensive arts center.
“Saline has the organizations and the people – the artists and the art enthusiasts, to support such a facility,” Byers said. “And I think the city is starting to realize a strong arts foundation is a good thing for the city in many ways because it brings people and money to town.”
Artists say they see many advantages to such a facility.
“I’m really glad to see the enthusiasm and I think we can get this off the ground,” fiber artist Kat Campau said.
Campau is a member of the Two Twelve Arts Center. She said a new cultural center would complement Two Twelve Arts.
“Two Twelve is wonderful. The only problem with it is that it’s small. Almost any artist needs more space than is available there,” she said.
Artist Cindy Baxter said she thinks a cultural arts center will bring even more synergy to Saline’s arts community.
“When artists are just kind of together, they create something in the atmosphere and a synergy. That’s what you need,” Baxter said. “How fabulous would it be to have someone who is painting (in the new cultural arts center) and have Saline Area Players come in and say, we need someone to paint a set.”
Saline City Council member Linda TerHaar is council’s liaison to the Arts and Culture Committee. She reiterated that the city is not in the financial position to fund a center. But, she said, there are many grant opportunities and other funding sources to tap.
One harbinger of sunshine was the emergence of a local man with a new foundation. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, read about the cultural center in the newspaper and decided he’d like to help.
The visioning process was facilitated by Diane Mukkala, head of schools for Daycroft Montessori School.
“One of the common themes we’ve heard over and over is that artists need a space to collaborate. There are young artists leaving the area. A cultural center could help keep young people in the community,” Mukkala said. “I’m very excited about it. The challenge now is to figure out how we focus ourselves and to develop actual concrete work steps. You have to have a good plan and you have to have follow-up.”