Reconstruction takes up Arts Council space
The Union County Community Arts Council will no longer be able to hold events at their downtown office due to reconstruction.
The City of Monroe owns the building that houses the arts council and the Downtown Monroe offices. The city had an agreement with Joe Beason, who owns an adjoining building, to use the adjoining building's stairs and bathrooms.
However, the agreement came to an end and the city had to build stairs in the back of the building to allow Assistant City Manager Brian Borne and Downtown Monroe Assistant Franco McGee access to their offices, Monroe Council member Margaret Desio explained. In doing so, the arts council lost access to a bathroom on their floor and considerable space.
"We had to put a staircase in," she said. "When we were still using access through (owner) Joe Beason's building, we were also using his restroom...when we could no longer gain access...we also had no restrooms."
Union County Community Arts Council Executive Director Barbara Faulk said there are bathrooms on the second floor she can use, but the building is no longer suitable for events.
"It will change what we can do as far as public access to the building," Faulk said. "We will not be able to have functions here any longer, but we hope with the city's help that we'll be able to find an alternative location at some point."
The council holds about one event a month, including art exhibits, pottery, receptions and other gatherings.
"It was a real cultural draw, attraction for downtown," Faulk said.
Desio said they intend to find her a new location, once funding is available.
"Our long-term plan is to find a more suitable place for her," Desio said. "That building is too small for her and now that we've had to put the staircase in, it's even smaller...we would love to find her a better facility to run her business out of."
"But money is an issue...so it's something that we're going to talk about and look to," Desio said. "We would love to find her a building that fits her needs better."
The front of city hall was recently renovated. Desio noted that the new conference room could be used for art exhibits in the meantime.
The arts council has always had a good relationship with the city, Faulk said.
"The city has treated us very well for many years, by donating the facility and resources," Faulk said. "In exchange, we provide arts education and community programs throughout the city."
The arts council is still running as a fully-functional business, however their ability to run events is limited, Faulk said.
"Ideally, I'd like to be able to find a location where we can have public events and promote the arts in a public forum where the whole building is accessible," Faulk said.
Desio hopes to help Faulk with whatever is in their means.
"We're real sorry that we ended up having to chop up half of her building, but it was unavoidable," Desio said. "The arts council is very important to Monroe."
Joe Beason could not be reached before press time.