2009-02-26 / Editorial

Jamestown Art Center needs everyone's support

By Kate Petrie

On March 2, the Town Council will meet to discuss the purchase of 44 Southwest Ave. by the Jamestown Arts Center. We urge you to gather with us at the Town Hall as our island has this rare opportunity to take an exciting step toward strengthening our vibrant community by embracing the arts.

The Jamestown Arts Center will be a place for residents of all ages, abilities and disciplines to enjoy the arts. The property on Southwest Avenue is the perfect central location that provides space for education, exhibition and performance. With a beautiful renovation of the Old Pump House by islander Peter Twombly of Estees-Twombly Architects, we will create a true wellspring of learning, sharing and artistic expression that will nourish the residents of Jamestown for generations to come.

The Jamestown Arts Center will stimulate our community's economy by providing opportunities for employment and drawing visitors to other island businesses. Our programming is designed to strengthen artistic skills for all ages and levels.

Staffed with accomplished professional local artists, the JAC can even provide a strong basis for those who wish to compete in the broad world of the arts. Self-expression can become self-reliance!

Most of all, the Jamestown Arts Center will be a place where every resident is welcomed and invited to explore their own creativity and enjoy the creativity of their neighbors as we learn, teach, mentor, perform, exhibit and work together. The main building and two out buildings afford space for ceramics, music, dance, writing, visual arts, exhibition and an outdoor stage. Each summer we will offer a children's interdisciplinary arts camp. The central courtyard unifies the property, creating the opportunity to experience the many different activities. Collaboration, out reach, fun and thinking out of the box will be our main goal.

How wonderful it will be for our island to have one place - a home - to go to that is solely for the arts. For decades, if not centuries, Jamestowners have been seeking their arts experiences in everything from the grange hall, living rooms, the rec center and the school gyms, even on top of the golf club. If the arts can manage in these conditions, imagine how they will flourish by having an actual home. Here we can unite existing community arts organizations and encourage new ones to form. Programming will be coordinated with the schools and town. So, for example, after school activities will not be at cross purposes with each other.

The Rhode Island Foundation has generously given the Jamestown Arts Center $30,000 to hire the Jamestown-based development firm "Seaside Philanthropy" to conduct a feasibility study, create a business plan and design our capital campaign. With this professional assistance we are already garnering support from a strong and enthusiastic donor base.

The reality of the Jamestown Arts Center is no longer an "if" or even a question of "when?" The time for the Jamestown Arts Center is NOW. Times are tough, but we can invest in our island, our own self-fulfillment and create a center where we must nurture the creative mind to guide our future.

We live in Jamestown because we love it, because it makes our lives better. Everything that is special about our community is what is important. Now we can make a unique and exciting decision and enhance our community experience even further by making it even more vibrant, creative and full.

The creativity and passion on our island is something the Jamestown Arts Center believes needs to be harnessed and celebrated, and ultimately it is what will preserve it, and help it journey through the next century with wisdom- not only for our island as we reach deep into our community, but for the world as we reach out and radiate beyond the bridges. So we are dedicated to ignite every conceivable spark of artistic energy on Jamestown.

We hope you will join us as we venture forward into this exciting and important project. www.jamestownartcenter.org.

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