There was a quiet murmur inside the second-floor art gallery, as guests walked between towering cocoons made of silk and fiber, past vibrant colors unashamedly scrolling across contemporary quilts, dresses carefully selected and colorful fabric sculptures.
The pieces were part of Fiber, Fabric, Fashion, a rich exhibition of textures that runs through June 5 at the New Hope Arts Center on Stockton Avenue in New Hope.
It’s a sight, however, some art lovers could easily miss, a broader concern that brought together a handful of community leaders and local artists earlier this month, as the New Hope Arts Center unveiled his renovation plans and a $750,000 fundraising campaign, called Elevate the Arts.
“We have been a 20-year-old organization that makes sense. Art remains art. The artists found us, and we are the place. But now it’s time for the building and facilities to live up to the quality of what’s going on inside,” said longtime New Hope Arts board member Ralph Fey.
Connecting the community with local artists has been an ongoing mission of the New Hope Arts Center, ever since it began without a physical location in 2002 before acquiring ownership in the early 19and century stone structure along the Delaware Canal, in 2009.
But over the years, the building has presented limitations in pursuing the center’s goal of increasing exposure and appreciation for the local arts community through issues such as its indistinguishable front entrance, steep staircase and its limited natural light.
And while the organization intends to honor the building’s history – originally a barn, which previously served as a foundry, theatre, gas station and fencing studio before becoming headquarters of New Hope Arts – the campaign aims to advance the organization by increasing its visibility and accessibility.
“Our mission, which was established early on, continues to be a place for the arts and a meeting place between the community and the arts. Where we can provide that environment and make it accessible is our next focus,” said Fey, who designed the building’s renovations with help from his team at Doylestown-based Ralph C. Fey Architects.
The company is currently pursuing approvals with New Hope Borough with the aim of starting construction in January 2023, a project that is expected to take around four months.
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“I have been working on improving this building with the council for 18 years. And it’s a pretty proud moment for us to move from a small project to a small project to a major project and a fundraising campaign that will elevate the building and elevate the arts,” Fey said.
Renovation plans include a dramatic front entrance with new signage, an updated interior lobby with an ADA restroom, an elevator, a taller open staircase, a rear entrance with an ADA ramp, and upgrades to the exterior facade.
“With our new vision…we’re going to move it even more vigorously toward embracing community-based arts organization,” said Carol Cruickshanks., executive director of New Hope Arts. “It wouldn’t be possible without a very strong board of directors, as well as a dedicated staff over the years to make this happen,” she noted.
The installation of the elevator, which will be the first stage of the proposed renovations, was made possible by a $116,000 community and economic development grant in Pennsylvania, initiated by Senator Steve Santarsiero.
“The one thing that was sort of our springboard for this fundraising campaign was Senator Santarsiero’s office. It really inspired us to take it to the next level,” said New Hope Mayor Larry Keller, thanking the board, staff, donors and support from local political leaders for helping launch the campaign. .
“For me personally, as a resident, as a business owner, this is a dream come true, not just for me as a resident, mayor, etc., but for all of us, this whole community. There’s a reason New Hope is thriving right now. New Hope Arts, I think, is a big part of that,” said Keller, who is also chairman of the New Hope Arts board.
New Hope artist Robert Beck, who attended the unveiling, stressed the importance of places like the New Hope Arts Center in providing a space for artists to learn and exchange ideas, inspire each other and the community as a whole, and propelling the arts forward. in all its various forms.
“It’s the only place where you will find this freedom of idea, that central creation is in the arts. And it’s a place to bring it all together, bring it all together, the creators and the rest of the community,” Beck said.
“It’s inspiring for an artist, it’s inspiring for an audience, to know that you can make it out of nothing. Anyone can develop their own voice and go somewhere from scratch in their own genre or medium. It’s in everyone,” he added.
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The first phase of the Elevate the Arts campaign launched privately in January. During this period, board members received $173,000 in pledges.
Campaign initiatives include digital and social media campaigns, ambassador initiatives, a video series and a donor recognition program.
Additionally, a 20and The anniversary gala will be held May 24 at the Du Village Hotel on River Road in New Hope. The fundraising event includes appetizers, drinks, live and silent art auctions, and live music.
Artwork for the live auction was donated by Robert Beck, Malcolm Bray, Miriam Carpenter, Rita Gekht, Kevin Kopil, Justin Long, Sean Mount, Rye Tippet.
Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased online at newhopearts.org.
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