- by Lisa Monti
The plain, rectangular industrial-style building on Blaize Avenue where the late designer Carter Church created regal Mardi Gras gowns and fanciful costumes is hollowed out now.
Over the next year, it will be transformed into the headquarters of The Arts Hancock County, where artistic creativity and inspiration will swirl around the 2,400-square-foot space once again.
Arts benefactor Mamie Hillery’s $180,000 donation made the building’s acquisition possible, and now the Arts leadership and members are getting down to the business of creating the nonprofit’s first official home.
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Architect John Anderson, The Arts president, said the building’s “bones” will be the same, and “we’re planning improvements to the entrance, interior, parking and front lawn area that will make for an inviting and flexible space, and make it fun to use.”
Anderson is a principal with unabridged Architecture, which donated its services to design the new headquarters. Making the interior flexible is the goal, he said, so the open space can be divided up in various configurations to accommodate gallery shows, workshops, demonstrations and meetings.
“We want to be able to change it, move things around, with a lot of contemporary walls on wheels,” John said.
The headquarters will have regular hours so locals and visitors can come in, browse the gallery and have the chance to buy pieces of art created by member artists. John said the facility could tap into the huge demand for artist workshops, attracting people from all over the country for a weekend or weeklong sessions.
Another goal is to have the spruced-up building and landscaping bring value to the Depot District neighborhood.
“We want to make it an active part of not just the city as a whole but the community we’re in,” John said.
The next step in the process is to start fundraising for building improvements and operations. John said they also plan to have a ceremony to dedicate the building in honor of Carter Church and Yancy Pogue for their creativity and contributions to the community.
The Arts, Hancock County
PO Box 3498
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520