Chastain: Artisans Center on its way

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By Jenny Arnold

Last week’s yard sale at the Artisans Center went so well, director Christina Chastain said two more are planned for this month.

The first sale, which was held Saturday, collected $400 by about 10 a.m. The yard sale likely profited from Lancaster’s downtown Street Market, which was held the same day.

When word got out that the sale would be held again on Saturday, Chastain said she received donations of goods from three more people.

“We’ve gotten a great response with donations, and we need more,” Chastain said. “We can use anything.”

Booths are available for the sale at the center, 119 S. Main St., the former Badcock furniture building, for $15. Furniture, clothing, toys, jewelry, books, Christmas decorations, baby items and other yard sale goodies will be for sale. Proceeds will go toward renovating the bathrooms at the center, in preparation for its grand opening in October.

“We need to make the bathrooms handicapped-accessible,” Chastain said.

Hours for the sale are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Another sale will be held Aug. 15.

Fundraising efforts

Chastain feels like the nonprofit arts center is well on its way to being successful. She received funding from both the city of Lancaster and Lancaster County to open the center for the first year, and hopes to secure donations and grants for the future.

The center’s marketing and fundraising committees are in full swing, meeting regularly, planning events and figuring out ways to get the word out about the Artisans Center, Chastain said.

A fundraiser called the White Party will be held Nov. 7 at the center. Those attending are asked to dress in white, with prizes going to the best-dressed couple, and best-dressed man and woman. Chastain chose white because art will be the focus for the event, and the color will not take away from the art that will be on display. The color is also symbolic of a blank canvas, she said. Raffles will be held through the evening.

To celebrate the grand opening, an art exhibit and costume party for adults will be held at the center on Oct. 31.

Other fundraising opportunities in the works include the sale of bricks, which people can buy and have their names printed on, which will go up in the front windows of the center on a decorative wall. Raffles for new TVs and other electronics, donated by local businesses, will be held before Christmas.

Local businesses or corporations may want to sponsor one of four galleries in the center, which will bear the business’ name. Donations are tax-deductible.

The building is also available for rental for weddings, parties and other events.

Art education

The focus of the center is art education in the five fine arts: visual art, music, drama, dance and creative writing.

Workshops planned include pottery for families, mixed media, water conservation and the environment and wellness.

Chastain would like to offer a blacksmithing workshop, but needs to find a blacksmith who would like to teach a class for the center.

Chastain has battled to open the center the past several months. She had to dissolve her first board and start the process over, going before both city and county councils to ask for funding a second time. She has put in hours and hours of sweat equity into the building, painting and doing other building renovations.

“I feel like we have a wonderful opportunity to come up from the negative, like the plant closings and unemployment, and do something positive for our community, something that’s affordable and right at home,” Chastain said. “I think it will be a great home for our local artists.”

Artisans Center board vice-president Brenda Jones said she’s stuck with the project since its beginning not only for her own passion for the arts, but because she wants another venue for arts education, especially for children and the elderly.

Jones said she’s working with Chastain to plan both on-site classes for Lancaster’s senior citizens, as well as classes to be held at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“It can be very therapeutic for the elderly,” Jones said. “And children need an outlet. It helps build self-confidence.

“I would love to see Lancaster really just blossom and become the arts center of the Metrolina area,” Jones said. “We could become an artists’ community.”

For details about donating to the center, workshops or other events, call Chastain at 804-3659.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Arnold at 283-1151