Contributing to the arts
Boyers, Stahl purchase MainStreet MarketPlace
Published: Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
With the help of some local business leaders, the arts in Custer is about to take a major step forward.
The Custer Area Arts Council (CAAC) recently announced a partnership with Brian and Janet Boyer and Johnathan Stahl that will see an arts cooperative formed in Custer that will lease space in the MainStreet MarketPlace building in downtown Custer. The Boyers and Stahl recently purchased the building, and having helped start an arts cooperative in Hill City years ago, felt the building would be an appropriate spot to launch such a cooperative in Custer.
“That cooperative, Artforms, is successful, and it is popular,”âï¿½ï¿½Stahl said.âï¿½ï¿½“We decided we would try to drive something like that here in town. The arts council here has really grown. It’s a perfect building for it.”
CAAC members feel with Main Street Marketplace, Custer will have another destination shopping experience, and with the help of local and area artists, it will be a draw for tourists and locals alike.
“We are very excited,” CAACâï¿½ï¿½member Patti Lee said.âï¿½ï¿½“The arts council is just exploding that this is happening.”
Renovated by Bob and Sarah Kopp in 2005, the former True Value Hardware Store was turned into a property with six different store fronts with their own entries and each with an individual design. This design allows for large amounts of wall space as well as floor space for showcasing all types of arts and crafts.
Sarah Kopp said the building is around 5,700 square-feet, with 4,000 square-feet of usuable space. The goal, when it was built, she said, was to make it a destination shopping area.
“We put our heart and soul into that building. It was ahead of its time for Custer,”âï¿½ï¿½she said.âï¿½ï¿½“There is a lot of creativity in that building.”
Among the unique aspects of the building are the totem poles that were preserved and brought inside, the barn wood that was taken from an old family barn and was used in some of the construction and the cupola in the center of the building that lets in sunlight into what Kopp said was “a very dark building.”
“We believe the time has come to bring this building back to life and make it an anchor of Custer's Main Street and showcase the talents of Custer area artists,”âï¿½ï¿½CAACâï¿½ï¿½officials said in a press release. Stahl and arts council members agree the MarketPlace could be a draw to Custer, and are intent on it being open year-around.
“There are visitors from all over year around, and when they come to town, if the town is thriving, they are going to stop and stay and spend more money here,”âï¿½ï¿½Lee said.âï¿½ï¿½“If it’s closed, they have no reason to stay.”
Artforms took shape in Hill City in the former Litl’ Nashville building, and CAACâï¿½ï¿½members believe the MainStreet MarketPlace building has much more potential to be an artist cooperative, and hope to draw artists from throughout the area into the cooperative. The building has more space, more wall space and an artistic appearance to the inside of the building and the exterior as well.
“We believe a core group of artists can take this building and make it the next great art cooperative in the Midwest,”âï¿½ï¿½the press release said.âï¿½ï¿½“Many of us have visited the Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery and we believe this is an excellent model to follow. Thirty core group artists run that cooperative but they sell arts and crafts from nearly 200 different vendors from across the U.S.”
There are plans for not only stationary art in the building, but also plays, concerts and other performing arts, as well as resident artists working in real time in the building. CAAC believes by having art on display and artists actually plying their craft in person, visitors and locals alike will spend time in the gallery space. Having several artists working in the hallway or even outside will be a huge draw, they say, plus it's a bonus for those artists displaying their work as well.
With over 4,000 square feet of usable space, there is room for dozens of artists to display their work in the building. There is also additional office and storage space as well as handicap public restrooms available. The main hallway will offer artists and others the chance to utilize the central courtyard to create, promote and sell their products.
There is also space available for “artisan food” makers to share a kitchen and sell their food stuffs as well. Custer has many local bakers, candy makers and specialty food makers who could take advantage of a commercial kitchen, CAAC members said. The back of the building could also be used as a coffee shop and performing arts space.
“The coffee shop would be a great addition to the artists cooperative and would lend itself well to nightly musicians playing in the same space,”âï¿½ï¿½the release said. “The back area could also be utilized for workshops, group activities and more gallery space for special events. The basement offers nearly 1,400 square feet of climate controlled storage with lots of shelving.”
Artists will be encouraged to stay open year around and also offer a web presence through the future websites mainstreet
marketplace.us, mainstreetmarketplace.info, mainstreetmarketplace.art, mainstreetmarketplace.shop and mainstreetmarketplace.eat
Working with the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, customized marketing programs can also be developed to increase brand awareness and incremental sales while enhancing everyone's marketing goals and objectives.
The cooperative that is to be formed will be a nonprofit organization. CAAC members would likely join the cooperative, which could have as many as 30 people when it launches.
CAAC board member Laurie Arthur said forming a cooperative is important, to have a separate legal entity that runs MainStreet MarketPlace, while receiving support from CAAC. The cooperative will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the gallery, and will survive from fees paid by the members. The members who work in the gallery would likely have reduced membership fees and pay less commission, CAAC members say.
CAAC members agree the sky is the limit for what can be done in the building to help grow and promote the arts in Custer, and are thankful that Stahl and Boyers approached them with the opportunity.
“When you look at Custer, it’s a very vibrant town,”âï¿½ï¿½Lonnie Arthur said.âï¿½ï¿½“With the Boyers stepping up and adding to that vibrancy, that’s very important.”
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