CCAC losing home as town ponders its mission

Time is up for the Civic & Cultural Arts Center of Pineville.

The looming chance the center’s rented space on Main Street could soon be sold has finally come to fruition, and by March 30, 316 Main St. will no longer be the art center’s home.

But thanks to a vote by the Pineville Town Council that would allow town staff to help supplement needed funds for renting a new space along Main Street, CCAC has more time to plan for the future – or at least until July 1. Town leaders will work diligently with CCAC over the next few months to iron out details in their possible involvement in the non-profit center.

CCAC leaders have always known their Main Street space, which was owned and recently sold by the Mecklenburg County Landmarks Commission, was only temporary. But with low rent and a prime location, finding a new home hasn’t been a priority. Town leaders and CCAC currently are working on a deal with W. A. Yandell Rental Property to rent a 2,300-square-foot space on 329 Main St., at least for the rest of this fiscal year, as the space is too small for all of CCAC’s programming, leaders said. Adequate space would be around 9,000 square feet, Lee Baumgarten, CCAC executive director, said. CCAC’s current location is about 2,800 square feet.

The center’s biggest source of funding comes from Pineville at $20,000 annually – something Baumgarten said should be increased in future years in order for the nonprofit to grow.

“The way CCAC sits right now, we haven’t been able to grow into the next step yet. We don’t have employees yet; we don’t have assets. We’re still building programs. We’ve asked the town to help us as far as rent and utility,” Baumgarten said at the meeting, adding new programs and expansion takes money. “I was hoping over the past years … we would have been able to build that partnership. It really hasn’t happened. We’ve always stayed right there at
$20,000.”

But town leaders still aren’t convinced CCAC has stayed to its original mission, and fear the center has put too much value in education initiatives across the county and surrounding area and less focus on the Pineville community as a whole.

“I remember when it first started… My concern, and I’ll be quite frank, is that CCAC has lost its goal and is focused on education initiatives,” Councilman David Phillips said. “I support the arts, but the town cannot support (CCAC as is). We expect something back from CCAC, as well.”

Phillips, along with councilman Les Gladden, wants to see CCAC offer a wider range of workshops and opportunities for kids, including more focus on art basics.

“With our partnership, we want some more basics,” Gladden said. “Right now, you only got the top people, but everybody falls at different levels, and I think we’re skipping a few levels here.”

Both sides agree more communication could take place between the town and CCAC. The center’s leaders claim the town hasn’t put forth any input so far, while council said they’ve not felt their ideas or suggestions have necessarily been welcomed. It’s clear there has been some disconnect between the two for some time, town administrator Haynes Brigman, who has offered himself as a liaison between the two and is new to the discussion, said.

“What we learned… is that if the town will continue to sponsor CCAC, which ultimately I think they (want to) do, but they just want (Baumgarten) to understand if the town is putting in the support, they want CCAC to (work with them),” Brigman said.

But Baumgarten made it clear CCAC can take its center elsewhere if the two sides can’t come to an agreement by July, including nearby south Charlotte or Fort Mill. With numerous offers on the table, Baumgarten said, he’s not worried for the future of CCAC as a whole, merely just the future of CCAC in Pineville. Pineville is his home, he said, but he’s not afraid to move CCAC somewhere else.

Ultimately, town leaders showed support for the overall mission of the CCAC and its role as a cultural crossroads in the town, as well as its role in Pineville’s downtown revitalization. The loss of CCAC not only on Main Street, but also out of the town completely, could affect the possibility of other amenities, businesses and organization making Pineville home, some leaders
worry.

“My fear is by not supporting CCAC, it is going to impact Pineville in relation to the library and some other areas looking (to move to) Pineville. It will look as though we can’t even support the arts,” Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards said.

“I would go ahead and help you rent a place for now, until July at least. I think if we have more talks, we could come out with a happier solution for all of us,” Gladden added.

 

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