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Andalusia Ballet explores its future home

“Can’t you just see it?”

Those words were repeated often, along with “oohs” and “aahs” Tuesday afternoon as members of the Andalusia Ballet’s board of directors toured the building that will become their new home.

In April, the Andalusia City Council voted to work with the Andalusia Ballet to develop what will become the Church Street Cultural Arts Center, to be located in the old Church Street School. The city agreed that the Ballet would occupy about a third of the building — the ground or middle floor — and have a 20-year lease. The Ballet has committed to raise $500,000 for the renovation of the building, and the city will continue to seek $1 million in funding to complete the renovations.

Andalusia Ballet founder and artistic director Meryane Murphy said the Andalusia Ballet Association recently met with the architect who will work with the city on this project and was pleased with his ideas.

She told ABA board members Tuesday that preliminary plans include a circle drive to the back (adult activity center side) of the old school for drop-offs.

The main floor will include a large ballet studio; three smaller studios to be used for children’s classes, adult classes, and modern and jazz classes; a board room/library, a dressing room, offices and a coffee/waiting area for parents.

Murphy said she’s pleased that the council has supported the project so that ABA can move ahead with fund-raising for the building.

Its fund-raising campaign, “Build the Ballet,” includes the sales of engraved cornerstones and bricks for the “Friends of the Ballet Patio,” which will likely be placed at the front (Church Street) entrance.

Engraved bricks are $100 and cornerstones are $500, she said.

In addition, the ABA has naming opportunities available for the three studios and a board room. Already, the Ray and Win Murphy Children’s Studio has been funded by a gift from the Murphy family.

“We are making personal contacts, sending letters and postcards,” Murphy said. “The Andalusia Ballet’s annual Valentine Dances also raises funds for the building project.”

Murphy said she hopes the ballet can move into the facility at the end of summer in 2010.

The upper floor will not be finished in the initial work, Mayor Earl Johnson said.

If another tenant becomes interested in occupying all or part of that floor, he said, the space will be customized for that tenant.

As part of the agreement with the city, the Ballet will act as custodian and general administrator for the building.