City gives Arts Council $10,000 for repairs

Charles Warner cwarner@civitasmedia.com

January 25, 2014

UNION — The Union County Arts Council asked for $5,000 to help cover the cost of repairing the floor of its gallery but ended up getting $10,000 from the City of Union.

Located on Main Street, the UCAC gallery is currently closed while its old floor is being ripped out and a new one installed. The closing of the gallery for the duration of the replacement of the floor was announced earlier this month by UCAC Coordinator Jackie Senn who said that “mushy spots” in the floor had been noticed and then the floor tiles began to crack with the slightest weight putting a hole through them. Upon further investigation it was found that there was a great deal of moisture in the wooden sub-floor which was causing the wood to rot.

UCAC President Bennie Giles said the repairs will cost approximately $48,000 due to the amount of structural damage to the building and the improvements that will be made to the exterior to prevent the problem from recurring. In addition, the UCAC also plans to paint the gallery, adding new molding around the top of the walls for hanging art and adding electrical outlets on one wall.

To help cover the cost of the project, the UCAC sent a letter dated Jan. 15 to City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson asking for a $5,000 grant. The letter states that initially, the UCAC had hoped to used the $5,000 grant from the city to match a $5,000 grant from the S.C. Arts Commission. However, the letter states that while the UCAC was preparing the paperwork to apply for the Arts Commission grant, it was informed that the money could not be used “for brick and mortar projects.”

Despite this, the letter states that the UCAC “would still like to ask the city council to approve the expenditure of $5,000 for the purpose of helping us complete these necessary repairs.”

The letter further states that the organization understands that the city “has been very generous in lending continuing financial support to UCAC and that fact makes it hard for us to come to you for more help. But, what we’re facing without repairing the damage is a shut down of the Arts Center. We believe that we you share our feeling that this would be a serious blow to our downtown area. Our various programs and exhibits attract many out-of-town, as well as local, visitors each month. In fact, during 2013 we averaged over 150 visitors per month.”

Council agreed and not only approved the UCAC’s request, but doubled the allocation to $10,000.

“We consider the Arts Council to very vital to our community,” Thompson said. “It fits perfectly into the Hospitality and Accommodations Tax Fund. This was a great opportunity to use some of the money for its intended purpose. I’d like to again express that council considers the Arts Council to be a very vital entity in our community.”

Giles thanked the city council for their generosity.

“We appreciate their support of the arts council,” Giles said. “We do hope to reopen within a few weeks.

Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.