By Jesse Wood
April 17, 2013. It’s official – well, almost. The Watauga County Arts Council will be leasing the New River Behavioral HealthCare for the next two years at $1 per year.
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners approved a lease at the Tuesday night board meeting, which becomes effective 10 days after the publication of a resolution that is at the bottom of this article. Then it becomes an official, binding agreement.
The lease includes automatic 90-day renewals for the WCAC unless either party notifies the other 60 days in advance.
The only request that the commissioners didn’t grant the WCAC was the right to sublet space within the 3,300-square-foot building at the intersection of State Farm Road and Shadowline Drive without the approval of the board. However, WCAC will be allowed to sublet; it just needs to run it by the commissioners first.
“If it’s a county building, we are going to be able to choose who is going to be in the building,” Chair Nathan Miler said, adding that that doesn’t mean whatever arts-related nonprofits the WCAC seek to sublet won’t be approved.
WCAC Executive Director Cherry Johnson said, “I can live with that.”
It’s been a hectic past year for the organization after exiting the Jones House in downtown Boone. As Commissioner Perry Yates said, “You’ve been thrown from pillow to post.”
Immediately following the meeting, Johnson said in a post titled “Our New Home!!!” on the WCAC Facebook page:
“We are THRILLED to announce that the Watauga County Commissioners and the Watauga County Arts Council have arrived at an agreement on the terms of our lease of the building which will soon become the BLUE RIDGE ARTSPACE! There is SO much to share with you – and to invite your participation in. But for tonight, we just want to say a hearty THANK YOU to our County Commissioners, to our many supporters, to those who helped make sure this came about, and especially to the VERY hard-working Planning Committee.”
The Blue Ridge ArtSpace will host art galleries, creative classes, a gift shop and more in conjunction with the Michael Patricelli Craft Enrichment Program at ASU and the ASU Community School of Music. The space would host learning activities in virtually all of the arts.
Asked how it plans to keep a sustainable business model and fund initial costs with the move, Johnson said she is working on organizing the 100 for 100 Club, whereby a 100 members of the community who support the work the WCAC does would donate funds for the startup costs. Also, Johnson said she has already identified 19 spaces in the building that local businesses could sponsor for a small monthly fee. She added the feedback from local businesses on that sponsorship idea has been great so far.
For much more background on WCAC’s plans with its new space, see these two stories: