$80K committed to Church Street project

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Alabama State Council on the Arts has awarded the City of Andalusia $80,000 grant for the Church Street Arts Center project.

The grant will be used to refurbish the old Church Street School Building into a cultural arts center.

Last 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.

Previously, the city has received a $40,000 grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts that went toward demolition of interior walls, removal of old wiring, plumbing and other fixtures in preparation of a much broader renovation project.

The city’s portion of work on the Church Street School project was included in a $6 million bond issue completed last fall for the River Falls Street project and improvements to Johnson Park.

Of the latest grant, Mayor Earl Johnson said, “We are very happy to have the continued support of the Alabama Council on the Arts for the Church Street Arts Center Project. Obviously the Arts Council shares our vision for the preservation of the beautiful old building and for the commitment for the development of the arts in Andalusia and Covington County. I want to thank Director Al Head and the members of the grants committee for staying with us on this dream and to the legislature for their support of the arts council, especially during tight budget years.”

Johnson said in its partnership with the Ballet Association, the city has a commitment for day-to-day management of the facility.

“That means that we will not have to add to our staff to supervise the arts center,” he said.

Plans for the project are being finalized. Johnson said that he expects to submit plans and a budget to the council for their approval in July, 2010.

The Andalusia Ballet’s Meryane Martin Murphy was out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment.