Lee Baumgarten, executive director of the Civic & Cultural Arts Center, told Pineville council members during their March 11 meeting that they must decide how much they care about keeping the arts in town.If youve lost faith in the CCAC, period, vote no. If not, well continue our relationship until July and well talk and see where we go, Baumgarten said. If not, well shut it down this month and get out of your way.Founded in 2008, the nonprofit centers mission is to be a regional destination for the performing and visual arts, as well as a hub for regular art classes and art shows, according to the organization.The group, which has been at 316 Main St. since 2009, is facing closure now that its leased location has been sold. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission owns the 2,648-square-foot property.The center must decide whether to move or close indefinitely. During the March meeting, Baumgarten asked council members to increase funding to help the center survive.After some tense discussions with council members and Baumgarten, the council decided to help the center stay open through July in an as-yet-unfinalized downtown location by providing funding.Pineville has given the nonprofit center $20,000 annually since 2008.With the recent sale of the Main Street building, the future of the organization had been in question because Baumgarten said the center doesnt know where they can afford to move.During the recent meeting, Town Administrator Haynes Brigman presented two options. The town could help the organization rent space downtown, where Pineville should anticipate paying $3,000 to $4,000 a month to help, he said. That solution would probably last two to three years, Brigman wrote in his report.The second option would be to sell two town-owned vacant homes on Dover Street to the organization, Brigman said; since the Civic and Cultural Arts Center is a nonprofit, it would have access to grants and funding sources to renovate the property. While discussing how much they wanted to help the center, council members expressed discontent with the groups direction in recent years.Councilman Les Gladden said the center has failed to diversify into other art forms and talent levels. Councilman David Phillips said the center has not delivered on its promise to continue building membership, though Baumgarten noted the center has more than 600 members.Gladden said that if council members agree to give the center money beyond July, he wants the town to have more say in the centers operations.Baumgarten expressed discontent with the organizations relationship with the town. He also said the lack of funding has prevented the organization from expanding, and he expressed frustration with some council members expectations the nonprofit should be open more often. He said thats difficult when the center does not receive enough financial help and relies on volunteers.Gaye List, president of the centers board of directors, said she was amazed the organization had been able to survive on a shoestring budget through a recession with volunteers. But she also said it is a shocking concern each year when there continues to be no additional funding from the town. Mayor Jack Edwards suggested the council focus on the long-term impact the arts can have on the community. Baumgarten said there are other communities in the region hoping to attract the center, but that his loyalty is to Pineville.CCAC has a lot of opportunity for where it goes, said Baumgarten. Ive always wanted it here, but the word is out and were being courted by a lot of different areas. So we could move it.
Friday, Mar. 14, 2014
Pineville will aid Civic & Cultural Arts Center until July
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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