New arts hub planned in Summerville

Dorchester County News

 A community arts center coming to Summerville in the fall. Construction is ongoing.  

The 11,500 square foot facility will include two expedition spaces, 14 studio spaces for artists to rent, an outdoor stage for music, and space for education. The facility will be rented for events, acting as a revenue stream.

Public Works Art Center is the organization behind the new project.   It’s a mostly volunteer, non-profit organization, headed by Summerville native Jana Riley.  

“Want to see the community have conversations through art. We want everyone to feel like they have a place,” Jana Riley told News 2. “We want a place for the community to connect.” 

The Commissioners of Public Works Building has been stripped down to make room for the new arts center. 

“Nine people here in Summerville really wanted to create a place where the community could come together. We haven’t had that thus far other than some really great parks and restaurants and such but we haven’t had a place where the community can learn together and grow together right in the heart of downtown Summerville,” said Riley.

The town’s Commissioners of Public Works still owns the building.  The arts organization signed a lease for three years to begin. Riley said the group hopes to buy the building in the future.

“We really were the underdog in this story,” said Riley. “We didn’t have a ton of money and the the only way that this happened was that the Commissioners of Public Works, the people that owned the building, believed in us.”

The cost to convert the building into the arts center is projected to be about $235,000. Riley said they will rely on donations and grants to fund the construction.

The non-profit will retrofit the facility to make it handicapped-accessible. The group will also restore the flooring.

“The main thing is restoring the building to its previous glory,” Riley told News 2. 

The group is hoping to rent studio spaces out by the fall. Artists can apply for space starting in June.

The Public Works group plans to hold a “vision event” on June 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. when the public can learn more about the building. Details about the event will be available later on the Public Works Facebook page.

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