The Medford Arts Center has a new location to call its permanent home, as Burlington County residents gathered at the center on Sept. 15 to partake in its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Located on 8 North Main Street in Medford Village, the center’s new residence is a single-story building that, unlike their previous location, is ADA compliant to guests with all disabilities and will allow the organization to expand its arts programs with more gallery space and classrooms.
“We want this to be a community center. Even if you’re not an artist, people can come and hang out here who just want to be around other people,” Arts Center Director Pat Worley said. “We want everyone to feel comfortable and happy here.”
Earlier this year, the arts center had to vacate its rented property just several doors down from its original location on 18 North Main Street. As the Medford Arts Center Board of Directors worked with the town to purchase a new building, they had difficulties finding a location that was not only financially suitable, but conducive to their guests needs as well.
When the new 2,200-square-foot facility went up for sale in June, Board President Jeffrey Lucas purchased the building. The acquisition cost more than $160,000 with an additional $30,000 spent in renovations, according to Worley.
Though the purchase was made with a donation from Lucas, as well as a loan to cover the cost, the arts center is still looking to raise $100,000 for renovations.
“We redesigned the layout for the classrooms, put in a handicap accessible bathroom and new flooring throughout the entire building,” Worley said. “We even raised a ceiling in the gallery space and replaced it as well.”
During the arts center’s grand opening, guests in attendance took in several oil paintings and sculptures already on display in the main gallery.
In the future, Worley said, not only will the main gallery be utilized to showcase the works of local artists, but it will also host a variety of new classes and programs offered by the arts center such as painting, photography, fabrics arts and bead weaving.
“We provide a venue where artists of all types can exhibit their work,” Worley said. “We have a much larger gallery space now than before, so we can have larger groups for assembly-like presentations, and programs that can seat anywhere between 50 and 60 people.”
To the back of the building, a second gallery space also holds two dedicated classrooms, a gift shop, as well as a staff office and kitchen.
As the arts center embraces its new beginnings, Worley aims to garner more support for local talent and have it become a staple building in the area.
“My goal for the organization is to be truly self-sustaining – something we can generate enough interest through sales to support our working artists and promote them too,” Worley said. “We’re here for the long run. It’s also open to other community members, so if people want to rent the space they can.”
As Worley and other members of the non-profit organization at the arts center continue to establish the new building in the community, state Assemblyman Joseph Howarth (R-8th Legislative District) said he was confident the new arts center will be an essential hub of activity for the town.
“[The Medford Arts Center] will bring people into Medford. It will continue to bring people in, and the people that come will continue to see what Medford has to offer,” he said. “They will continue to come back every chance they get because this is a special place.”