WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Raising Money for Renovations

Macomb, IL – The West Central Illinois Arts Center in downtown Macomb is holding a benefit wine tasting this weekend to help pay bills and begin the planning stages for some major building renovations.

Dave Dorsett is the president of the WCIAC board. He says the renovation projects could cost hundreds of thousands, to even millions of dollars. Dorsett hopes this year's wine tasting will increase interest in the arts center and at least raise a few thousand dollars.

"There will be at least a half dozen distributors represented here, each with six wines," says Dorsett. "There'll be reds, whites, sparklings, desserts... it's a lot of fun. It's very relaxed."

Dorsett says the event will also feature hors d'oeuvres prepared on site, as well as live music. Tickets cost $25, 20 of which will go directly toward the arts center. The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 12.

The art center's home on the east side of Macomb's courthouse square has housed a number of businesses since its construction in 1882. It was most recently home to Maurice's.

When the arts center moved in, the aluminum paneling on the front of the building was taken down. It revealed a gaggle of boarded up windows and a brick facade in need of moderate to major restoration.

"We're getting to the point where we've got to start looking at doing some architectural drawings, some major exterior items, like removing the window coverings, trying to determine what we're going to do with the facade," says Dorsett. "It's been returned to a certain point, but we need to see what we can do about cleaning it, or removing paint, or repainting."

The building's second and third floors haven't been used for some time. Dorsett hopes the WCIAC board can eventually find a way to renovate the second floor to use as rental space. The third floor has a unique staging area, which he says would be perfect for smaller, intimate performances.

He says such a facility completely renovated would likely be the only one of its kind in west central Illinois.

"Most [other facilities] are focused, or are just a smaller venue," says Dorsett. "For example they did a really nice job with the Phoenix Opera house, twice, down in Rushville. But it's a much smaller, more contained facility."

Dorsett says it will easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the proposed renovations. He hopes this Saturday's wine tasting will raise a couple thousand. But, he says every little bit helps.