Design shows creative energy for new Wilson Arts Center

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The Arts Council of Wilson’s relocation plans are taking shape with the recent selection of Louis Cherry Architecture and Muter Construction to design and renovate the building at 204 Nash St.

“The ACW team is really excited to work with Louis Cherry Architecture. It is so clear that Louis is very inspired by the arts initiative that is happening right now in downtown Wilson,” said Betsy Rascoe, the arts council design committee chairwoman. “He is very tuned in to designing for community and does not spare a detail when it comes to functionally designed spaces.”

Cherry will be in charge of designing the 20,000 square-foot facility to include art galleries, performing arts studios, special event space with a catering kitchen, a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and classrooms for all ages.

“With approaching the design, we are seeking an open feel, functional space with timeless appeal in preparation for an arts council that will serve future generations of Wilson County residents for many years to come,” said Cathy Hardison, the arts council’s executive director.

The bulk of construction is set to get underway in the coming months once the design is complete.

“We are so excited to be part of the creative energy that is happening in Wilson,” Cherry said. “The Wilson Arts Center is going to be an important anchor for downtown Wilson. It is gratifying to bring new life to a prime downtown building.”

The project was announced in December when city officials agreed to buy 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’s location at 124 Nash St. SW. The project budget is $1.6 million, and work has already happened to stabilize the building.

“We had a demo day and cleaned out the space in preparation for asbestos abatement in the tile floor,” Hardison said. “Slinging a sledgehammer is good therapy, especially in the company of a team of enthusiastic volunteers. Carolina Lead Abatement generously handled the asbestos abatement at a reduced cost as an in-kind donation and completed the work in March.”

Crews plan to work on the roof next while Cherry works on the design. The full renovation is expected to get underway in September with plans to be finished and the council moved in by the spring of 2020.

“The Arts Council of Wilson is moving forward strategically, and this design-build partnership with Louis Cherry Architecture and Muter Construction aligns us with a mission-driven, cost-effective, time-sensitive approach to renovating this space as the hub of creative endeavors in Wilson,” said Beth Searcy, president of the Arts Council of Wilson’s board of directors.

Wilsonians looking for information on council programs including summer camps, classes, workshops, gallery shows, artist talks, receptions, events and performances can visit the Edna Boykin Cultural Center or call 252-291-4329. Donations are being accepted for furnishings and visual arts equipment.

“We are doing our best to maintain our level of programming, but we have had to restructure some of our visual arts events in the interim,” Hardison said.