07/24/11 — Arts Council preparing to move into downtown digs

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Arts Council preparing to move into downtown digs

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

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Sticker prices hang from frames at the Arts Council. As part of the process of moving to its new location downtown, the Arts Council of Wayne County is having a gallery and moving sale.

The heart of the arts in Wayne County will move further into the county seat's center later this month as the Arts Council of Wayne County prepares to begin the next chapter in its 47-year history.

Arts Council Director Sarah Merritt said the council's long-anticipated move downtown will begin this week as staff and movers relocate furniture, art displays and supplies to the newly-purchased location on John Street.

But, like most moves, Mrs. Merritt said the packing up of belongings has revealed an excess that can be purged, including furniture and leftover art from previous displays, as well as items from the council's permanent collection. Those items are being sold in a moving sale running through Friday.

"We're in the process of packing -- going through and deciding what we don't need," Mrs. Merritt said last week. "Everything in the actual moving sale ranges from picture frames that have been left behind, to office supplies we don't use anymore, to artwork that artists have left here and never picked up."

Moving from the 14,000-square-foot building at the corner of Ash and Spence to its "right-sized" downtown location will mean less work for the council's three-person staff to maintain their offices, but will also mean a reduction in space.

"There's a couple pieces of furniture and artwork that we won't have room to store," she said.

But, she said her organization is receiving some help from the property's previous owners, Jeff and Cindy Darwin, in the form of some storage space while renovations are ongoing downstairs.

"The property owners have graciously offered to let us use 104 N. John (St.) on the first floor. We'll use that space while renovating so we can have our art market. It works out really well, but that will be a nice show for our local visual artists," Mrs. Merritt said.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Merritt said her organization isn't allowing its limited access to impact its activities in the community. The Arts Council is instead focusing on its outreach programs, including music classes and a planned jazz concert in conjunction with the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni Association and East Coast Jazz on Aug. 12. The city has also agreed to allow the Arts Council to continue its Sundays in the Park series, which features weekly art and music activities.

"We'll be focusing on things we do outside of our facility," she said, adding that she's hoping for a January grand opening.

"We hope it doesn't change, but we're flexible," she said of the planned completion date. "We're setting it as our goal to have a big party and invite everyone from the community and open up a fabulous exhibit that we already have planned."