Renovations a decade in the making were celebrated during a ribbon cutting at the Arts Castle on Wednesday.
Thanks to Cultural Facilities Grants totaling about $140,000, the non-profit organization’s building received an upgraded heating and cooling system, a new parking lot with improved drainage, and a new dance floor in the ballroom.
“I’m so pleased we’ve been able to use these funds to help the Castle be protected from temperature and moisture,” said Arts Castle board president Ralph Hodges. “This is such an important landmark in the community, that we all need to be sure it’s here for many generations into the future.”
Originally, the Arts Castle applied to the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to construct a new elevator for the building. However, “the return for the expense of an elevator just didn’t make sense,” Hodges said.
There is a chair lift that can take people with mobility issues to the upper level of the 161-year-old building.
Hodges said they found out the grants could be used for other capital improvements. Enter state Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell.
“Brenner was critical in making sure those funds that were granted a number of years ago stayed earmarked for the Castle,” Hodges said. “He was patient in helping us make our way through the process.”
“I’m grateful that I was able to help with this project,” Brenner said. “I also want to thank the governor (John Kasich) for this because, in the budget bill that was just passed, the Ohio Arts Council received a substantial increase in funding that’s available for grants in the coming years.”
After the ribbon cutting, Hodges said the Arts Castle planned to seek future grants for building preservation, citing problem areas like windows and roofs.
City Council members and county commissioners were in attendance, and Hodges praised them for “developing a very unique public-private collaboration that makes this place a part of the fabric of this community.”
“I’ve always supported the Arts Castle,” said council member Joe DiGenova. “I think it’s an asset to the community.”
“Institutions like this mean so much for our county,” said Commissioner Gary Merrell. “We feel it’s important to support it because of the role the arts play in the community.”
In its 26th year, the Arts Castle at 190 W. Winter St. offers classes, workshops, exhibits and special events. Currently on view is the “Delaware Artist Guild Summer Show” through Aug. 14. For more information, visit www.artscastle.org or www.facebook.com/theartscastle; or call 740-369-2787.Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.