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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Arts Council meets its match

By Kelsey Roebuck

The Grinnell Area Arts Council [recently] met its fundraising goal of $80,000, qualifying it for a partial matching grant from the College offered in June.

“People have recognized that we are a growing hub in Grinnell,” said Arts Director Judy Arendt. “People want to be a part of that, it’s exciting.”

The College will contribute one dollar of capital for renovations to the Stewart Building, GAAC’s new home, for every $2 the community raises for its endowment, which will be used to sustain the Council (GAAC)’s operating expenses and programming now and in the future. GAAC runs various programs dedicated to creative expression.

“Their challenge is wonderful because it allows us to both use that to get money for the endowment and at the same time improve this building,” said Molly Rideout ’10, Residency Coordinator and Administrative Assistant.

Rideout coordinates the Grinnell Artist Residency Program (GAR), which is designed to support emerging artists. The past two years have featured two Grinnell College alumni. Although Rideout graduated from Grinnell in 2010, she did not become involved in the Arts Council until after she moved away and came back to run the artist residency.

“I was so glad to come back to town,” Rideout said. “When I graduated I was desperate to get out of town, then five or six months later I was desperate to get back.”

GAAC’s growth is largely attributed to its new location, the Stewart Building. After the library moved from this 109 year-old historical landmark to the new Drake Library, the Council began to convert the Stewart Building into the town’s first established Art Center.

“One of the main reasons why we started this endowment now is because we have this wonderful building,” Rideout said. “This building allows us to be here in the long-term, expanding to the breadth that we have.”

The Stewart Building is listed on the National Historical Registry, which further compounds the cost and difficulty of renovations designed to transform it into an Arts Center.

“We have to be really careful what we do because it’s on the National Historical Registry. … Right now we’re working on putting a couple of kilns in for a ceramics room,” Arts Director Arendt said.

When the College and GAAC first collaborated on the matching grant and endowment campaign, it was decided that only pledges contributed after the matching grant was announced would be considered in the challenge.
“This was all … new over the summer, [the] contributions of people in town,” Rideout said.

This partnership between Grinnell College and the GAAC has continued for most of the 30 years that the Arts Council has been in existence. Besides financial support, many students are often involved in the programs offered at the Arts Center.

“We have a lot of college students that either have work study here, help teach, or just volunteer, and we could always use more,” Arendt said.

“This past summer we had Kelly Musselman ’11, she was one of our Poets-in-Residence,” Rideout said. “We’ve had a Grinnell student every year that we started doing Iowa students.”

From theatrical productions, to art classes and shows, the Grinnell Area Arts Council is dedicated to filling a niche in the town of Grinnell. As the partnership between the College and GAAC continues, students can expect many more opportunities.

“There are all sorts of ways in which they can be involved,” Arendt said.

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