HCA set to take bids on contractors for building

HCA set to take bids on contractors for building
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The new Holmes Center for the Arts building, shown in this drawing, will have 10,963 square feet of space in its initial phase.

                        

A dream of Holmes County arts fans is becoming more than a glimmer on the horizon.

A new Holmes Center for the Arts, where both children and adults can learn to dance, learn pottery making, sing and explore other talents, is about to take another big step.

Bids will open Dec. 16 to find a contractor for the building, said Holley Johnson, executive director. Tekton Engineering of Berlin is the firm designing the building.

Excavation has already occurred at the site, next to the Burger King in Berlin.

Johnson said she loved the project from the beginning.

The group working on the project took bids last summer, but Johnson said they were blindsided when they found costs were projected to be higher than expected. “We took a step back,” she said.

The building, which will have several levels, was to be 14,000 square feet, Johnson said.

Now it will be done in phases. The second phase will be to construct a 4,000-square-foot multi-purpose room. Johnson said the building will be unique to the area.

In the first 10,963 square feet of space, there will be studio space, dance studios and an art studio with art cabinets and a kiln room for pottery, Johnson said. “It’s pretty cool,” she said.

Johnson said this kind of space in Holmes County will open up opportunities.

There is the Amish Country Theater and the Ohio Star Theater in operation, but they operate in conjunction with hotels, Johnson said. She said these are valuable because they aid tourist activity in the area.

Doing the Center for the Arts will be different because opportunities offered will be unique.

The effort has received a $600,000 capital grant from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Those grants came with specific requirements, Johnson said.

The OFCC grant requires cultural activities be offered for 10 years. The mental-health group wants the center to provide services for at-risk teens.

The building will have office space where counseling can be offered, Johnson said.

Johnson said the need for that kind of help has skyrocketed. She said kids need an outlet for expression.

The budget for the project is $2.5 million. With $1.1 million already available, it means a bit more needs to be raised.

Johnson said she is hoping people will remember their year-end giving and look to the center project.

There is a button on the website for the center that donors can use, or they can send a check in the mail or call to show their support, Johnson said. She said getting the grant money meant someone had to write grant proposals.

Johnson said she and Cathie Lynch started small but kept on writing before they realized some success. Those two had served on a panel with the Ohio Arts Council, which gave instructions on grant writing. Lynch is in charge of outreach for the center.

The project to get a center has been ongoing for almost six years, said Johnson, who is a former professional ballerina. She started giving lessons to kids in the area and had about 100 students. She said the kids were passionate about what they were doing.

Johnson said she was frustrated in the for-profit world and wanted to offer scholarships. She said kids and their parents don’t want to travel 45 minutes or an hour to participate in dance. She said an old church building was rented, but the kids were on top of each other. Older buildings that were available were examined, but they didn’t fit requirements for a desired arts center.

“People need hope right now,” Johnson said. She said the center supporters have made it this far and will make it work.

Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts from the University of Utah. She danced for the Atlanta Ballet and the Lexington, Kentucky ballet.


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