City buys new home for Wilson arts council

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More than paint is required before the Arts Council of Wilson moves into its new home, but once complete, 204 Nash St. S. is slated to serve as the headquarters of art galleries, performing arts studios and innovative programs for generations to come.

“The new facility offers a blank canvas for the arts council to strategically align design and function,” said Cathy Hardison, executive director for the arts council. “While the BB&T building holds many fond memories and will always remain an important part of our history, we look forward to renewing our identity amidst an evolving downtown landscape.”

During a Thursday morning meeting, the Wilson City Council gave its stamp of approval for a plan to purchase the former Super 10 building and allocate $500,000 to match a BB&T pledge along with $300,000 that had been earmarked for maintenance and repairs associated with the arts council location at 124 Nash St. SW.

“Most cities have strategic plans, but few fully commit to their implementation,” said City Manager Grant Goings. “This bold decision by the Wilson City Council, when combined with the Innovation Hub announcement, demonstrates that our community’s vision of a revitalized downtown with a focus on arts and innovation is well underway.”

The Innovation Hub, an entrepreneurial epicenter, was announced earlier this year for 127 Goldsboro St. with a $1.1 million grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation in conjunction with $1.6 million from the city. Wilson officials said the 124 Nash St. location will be marketed to developers for renovation, but no potential projects for the former BB&T were discussed during the Thursday meeting.

While renovations of the 20,000 square-foot facility on the 200 block are underway, the arts council will remain in the Boykin Center. The building currently is owned by Science Museums of Wilson following a 2010 donation by the Wilson Hotel Co. Built in 1956, the property is valued at $345,811 according to tax records.

“Our decision to move was mission-driven,” said Beth Searcy, president of the arts council board of directors. “The new address will be the fourth physical location in our 50-year history, and we can best serve our purpose by prioritizing accessibility, innovation and functionality in this new space. The city’s support positions us to become more self-sufficient through building ownership and to contribute meaningfully to the revitalization of Wilson through intentional design that facilitates inclusive, comprehensive partnerships and arts education and outreach.”

A timeline for the renovation has not been announced. The arts council is seeking donations to assist with furnishing, equipment and contingency costs for the new building. To contribute, call the Arts Council of Wilson at 252-291-4329.