Fundraising to ramp up for Fraser arts center
With two potential arts center projects on the table, Fraser recommitted to fundraising for a $12 million downtown creative destination and workforce housing.
On Wednesday, the Fraser Public Arts Committee sought input from the town board about which of two proposed art center projects the group should focus on for fundraising efforts moving forward.
Fraser has been discussing an arts center since at least 2018 with a goal of building the creative community and economy. At that time, Fraser’s public arts committee kicked off a plan to build a gallery, workspaces and housing, known as the Fraser Center for Creative Arts, on the corner of Eastom and Doc Susie avenues.
In an update from public arts committee member Steve Fitzgerald to the board, Fitzgerald shared the cost of the proposed Center for the Creative Arts has increased from $5 million to around $12 million.
The second of two proposed projects would move forward with remodeling Fraser’s historic church to add classroom and storage space for art and creative classes. Fitzgerald said this work would cost around $6 million, which he estimated would take about five years to raise.
“(The church remodel) doesn’t get quite as many benefits, it’s not as snazzy as a new building, but the upside is it’s anchored in the middle of our community and surrounded by a neighborhood,” he said.
Currently, the church is used for Fraser Valley Arts and Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District activities and classes. Fitzgerald said the church is highly utilized, which prompted consideration of the remodel.
“Our team was unanimous in thinking the appropriate first step from our point of view would be to go after the church restoration, engage the community on that plan, take their counsel, see if there’s enough support,” Fitzgerald said. “When we get that up and operating, then we’ll start worrying about whether or not we go after the original plan.”
Fraser’s board was split on whether both projects should move forward or just the Fraser Center for Creative Arts.
Trustees Brian Cerkvenik and Katie Soles liked the idea of fundraising first for the church remodel and then for the arts center, seeing a need for both.
“My initial thought is to go for the church first, bite off a small chunk, and then maybe that will motivate more people to fundraise for the new building as well,” Cerkvenik said.
However, other trustees were hesitant to go forward with both projects considering the price tags and voiced support for focusing on the original arts center, which has the added benefit of housing and building a downtown focal point.
Mayor Philip Vandernail worried the arts center would be forgotten if the town didn’t keep moving forward on the project.
“I think if you start with the church, we’re killing the arts center,” he said. “I think if you’re going to raise $6 million, why not $12 million?”
Ultimately, the board directed the Fraser arts committee to forgo the church remodel for the creative arts center. Fraser does have money budgeted to improve bathrooms and heating at the church this year.
The next steps will be for Fraser Valley Arts, the nonprofit arm of the public arts committee, to create a capital campaign for the arts center. So far, Fraser Valley Arts has raised roughly $25,000 since forming last year.
In other business:
• Trustees released $160,794 in surety for the completion of water and sewer improvements at the Mill Avenue Apartment project. The town still holds $339,205 in surety for street improvements at the project, citing streets not being inspected by the town nor following the approved construction plan.
• A bid for the construction of restrooms at the Cozens Ranch Open Space was approved. Green Flush Restrooms submitted a proposal for a prefabricated park restroom for $223,709. Fraser has grant money from the Department of Local Affairs to cover the cost.
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