The Yadkin County Historical Society and The Yadkin Arts Council presented “A History of the Yadkin Arts Council 1975-2010 and An Arts Council Reunion” Sunday afternoon at the senior center.
John Willingham, president of The Yadkin County Arts Council, talked about the history of the group.
“The idea of a cultural arts center in Yadkin County initially took shape back in 1996,” he said. “At that time the Yadkin Arts Council was rapidly expanding its program offerings throughout the county. We were again doing stage productions we had taken over from the Jaycees, the Yadkin Valley Harvest Festival, and we brought back the community chorus “Messiah” performance.
“We were doing regular artist shows where we paired an artist with one of the many new area wineries. Our in-school arts experience, a collaboration with Yadkin County Schools, had grown significantly in size and scope. We had a full-time executive director and a much larger budget. The Holton-Prim House was being rented as a gallery and gift shop.
“About that time, Whiff’s Restaurant, located at 226 E. Main Street, closed its doors. A dream was hatched, to buy that building and create the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center. The building seemed to be just the right size, and the location ideal for such a facility.
“Capital Development out of Winston-Salem, a professional fund-raising and advisory company for non-profits, was hired to direct a needs assessment for a cultural arts in Yadkin County.
“Next came the steering committee, a group made up of local leaders and interested individuals. The process was off and running at this point. Though still just a dream, there were lots of goods ideas and a growing enthusiasm.
“On Jan. 14, 2007, a kick-off party was held at the newly purchased building, and we officially announced that the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center would be built in Yadkinville. Fuller Architecture from Mocksville was hired to create the plans. A fund raising committee was formed and we began a capital campaign to raise $2.5 million dollars.
“For the next two years it was all about raising the money and deciding on the plans. During this time Gray Garrison donated the open lot next to the building and we incorporated the plaza feature into the design.
“Finally last summer came the WCWB event – Wine Cheese and a Wrecking Ball. There we announced that construction would begin in the fall. The Arts Council moved its offices to temporary space across the street from here.
“Demolition began in October, followed by the start of construction. Now the project is well along, and we anticipate completion by early summer. Despite a tough winter, which has slowed construction, the building is starting to take shape.
“You are going to be seeing changes in the look of the building almost every day now. The arts council will be an absolutely stunning facility when completed. And its impact on the community will be tremendous. Designed as a multi-functional facility, it has a variety of uses.
“There are three classes with expandable walls, a coffee shop with indoor and outdoor seating and wireless Internet, a catering kitchen, a gallery and a state-of-the-art 192-seat theater for stage productions, concerts and movie viewing.
“The outside plaza features a brick paver stroll-way, landscaping, water fountains and a unique wall mosque related to the earliest inhabitants of Yadkin County, the Cherokee Indians.
“The arts council has the potential to reach every citizen of Yadkin County in some way. It will be a place for artists of all mediums and for audiences of all ages and interests. There you will be able to express yourself, to teach, to learn, to be entertained. You can be social or enjoy solitude.
“Now from an economic perspective the Yadkin County Arts Council should be good for our economy. Tourism is the new industry of the region and will drive our growth and economic prosperity in the future. The Yadkin County Arts Council will draw tourists to the area and ties in nicely with the wine industry. Art and wine go together, and we will leverage this to the benefit of our community.”