WIUM Tristates Public Radio

West Central Illinois Arts Center Fundraising for Future

Dec 19, 2017

The West Central Illinois Arts Center is a not-for-profit group completely run by volunteers. Next year marks a significant milestone for the Arts Center, which will celebrate a decade of owning its building on Macomb's courthouse square.  

The Arts Center currently operates out of just the first floor of the three story building, which is on the east side of the square. Board Member Nancy Crossman said the group's long-term plan calls for opening up the second floor and eventually the third floor to the public.

“Our goal has been from the very beginning to bring the arts to the region and that means all aspects of the arts. We are not just an art gallery; we are an arts center,” Crossman said.

Crossman said the Board has considered a variety of possibilities including studio space for artists, but it's now leaning toward creating a space that can be enjoyed by all ages.

A large HVAC unit takes up space on the second floor. Crossman said a new unit would be about the size of refrigerator for a college dorm room.
Credit TSPR's Emily Boyer

“We are looking into the feasibility of making it a family friendly kind of space -- kids activities, hands on interactive arts activities, and things like that,” Crossman said.

Crossman said before renovations can get underway, the organization must remove and replace the HVAC systems throughout the building. The Warm Hearts fundraiser seeks to raise $29,000 to purchase three new HVAC systems plus a fourth unit to be installed on the second floor.

Crossman said the HVAC upgrades will also address an immediate need for the Arts Center. The current HVAC systems are well past their prime and could stop working at any point. Crossman said they already fail to provide heat to the back of the building, stopping the group from fully utilizing its space.

“Right now, we are only using it for storage, but that could be used for classroom space, workshop spaces, and things like that if it had heating and cooling,” Crossman said.

Board Member Ron Petrin said the three HVAC systems in the building were installed in the early 1980’s.  “And at that time they were about 51% efficient. That was top dollar in terms of quality which means for every dollar we spend on heating, 50 cents of that goes up the chimney,” Petrin said. “If we can replace them with more efficient systems, currently the ones we are looking at are a little more than 95% efficient.”

Petrin said the group is primarily fundraising online at the West Central Illinois Arts Center’s website with the hope of locking in the purchase prices for the new units in the first part of 2018.