It’s been a long time coming — close to two decades — and it still has some time to go, but the Chesterfield Center for the Arts nudged a little closer toward a brick-and-mortar building with the unveiling this week of a model showing the architectural concept of the project.
But the arts center won’t be built for some time. Almost $7 million in funds for the center was approved in the 2004 bond referendum, but the first of those bonds isn’t scheduled to be sold until after July 1, 2010. Some of the bonds won’t be sold until the following year.
“We can’t do anything until the bonds are sold,” said Betty Matthews, chair of the Chesterfield Center for the Arts Foundation, the organization spearheading planning and fundraising efforts.
The original plan was a 33,000-square-foot center with a 450-seat theater, Matthews said. The reality, as is the case with many projects in this economy, has been downsized to an 18,000-square-foot building with a 350-seat auditorium.
The county’s board of supervisors long ago capped spending on the building at $8 million, so the foundation is charged with raising at least $1 million.
“We’re just beginning to show the model,” Matthews said. “Major fundraising efforts will come in the future.”
In the meantime, the foundation will take on smaller fundraising projects, such as selling bricks to be used in building the center at ChesterFest in September and organizing a silent auction.
The proposed site is on county land adjacent to the Chester public library off of West Hundred Road. When completed, it will be only the second arts venue in Chesterfield; the other is the Swift Creek Mill Playhouse.
In addition to the auditorium, a multipurpose room will offer space for a variety of uses, including business meetings, community-style dinners and dance rehearsals or performances. The room will also offer digital projection for presentations and movies.
The main lobby, which foundation members have dubbed the gallery area, will be home to works of visual art.
Matthews says the center is long overdue in the county.
“The need for an arts center in Chesterfield County has grown in tremendous proportion to county growth,” she said. “It isn’t the same county it was 20 years ago. There is a need out there for an arts venue to enhance the quality of life and for education, but also for the economic benefit. It will be an asset, especially because of our proximity to Meadowville, in attracting business to Chesterfield.”
The design was developed by Westlake, Reed, Leskosky, an architecture and design firm out of Washington.
This story first ran in the Chesterfield Observer, which is an RBS news partner.