South Charlotte

Pineville mobile unit gives town a new lease on arts

The Pineville Park and Recreation has started to add more programming, including this elementary-age pottery class.
The Pineville Park and Recreation has started to add more programming, including this elementary-age pottery class. COURTESY OF KRISTY DETWILER

Pineville residents soon will have more space to enjoy the arts.

To meet the growing needs of arts programming, Pineville Council members approved the installation of a mobile unit at the Belle Johnston Community Center for $20,000, during the April 14 council meeting.

The money also will be used for landscaping, painting and lighting.

“They felt it was a very cost effective, short-term fix for us to provide additional space for our arts and environmental programming,” said Town Manager Haynes Brigman. “This is going to give us a dedicated space, so we’re not all cramped inside our current space.”

Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Detwiler said that, in the wake of the Civic and Cultural Arts Center leaving town last summer, Pineville began contracting out more programming.

The nonprofit CCAC, whose mission was to be a regional destination for performing and visual arts and regular art classes and shows, had reached a budgeting impasse with town leaders. Consequently, the center moved out of town in late June.

The department began by contracting for pottery classes and workshops for toddlers up to seniors with the help of local artist Rick Crowley, starting in November 2014, Detwiler said.

Town staff also started offering acrylic painting classes for toddlers, youths, teens, adults and seniors, Detwiler said.

Additionally, she said, town staff began working with local theater director Eva Montes, who is helping the town start a community theater. Organizers hope to have the first performance by late summer.

Detwiler said the Parks and Recreation Department also is providing environmental classes, which are gaining interest, although the Mommy & Me classes for both pottery and painting have been particularly popular.

“Our Parks and Recreation staff has done an excellent job, not only maintaining some of the programs in place at the time CCAC closed its doors but by offering additional programs and activities along the way that have proven to be very successful,” said Councilman David Phillips.

But the space at the Belle Johnston Community Center and the Hut are too limiting for all the programming, Detwiler said, especially if the department intends to grow.

“The only thing holding us back is lack of space,” said Detwiler.

She said it’s often a struggle to juggle various classes among different facilities and to make sure those facilities are clean and set up for the different programs after each class.

“It keeps us on our toes,” she said. “We just have to double-check everything to make sure we are not over-booking or double-booking any facility, and making sure we have the staff available to clean and set up for programs,” she said.

Detwiler said that, after much brainstorming, she came up with the idea to contact Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools about leasing a mobile unit.

The town will lease a CMS mobile unit for $1 a year; the 12-by-40-foot unit will be used primarily for art programming, Detwiler said.

Town leaders said they’re pleased with the initiative the department has taken to keep arts alive in Pineville.

“We need to be able to provide something for everybody, and not everybody is a sports person,” said Mayor pro tem Melissa Rogers Davis. “I’d like to see a little bit of everything offered to our residents.”

Leaders also said they are excited about the partnership with CMS.

“What’s unique with this opportunity (is) it affords Pineville the opportunity to acquire added space for more offerings at a fraction of the cost normally associated with new construction,” Phillips said.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

Learn more:

For information on programming offered through the Pineville Park and Recreation Department, visit http://townofpineville.com/parks-and-recreation.

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