WARDSBORO -- Three cultural facilities in Windham County will benefit from $40,597 in grant money to make improvements to their buildings.
The Wardsboro Public Library, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in West Brattleboro and Main Street Arts in Saxtons River are three of the 12 entities to soon receive funding from the Vermont Arts Council to support crucial, but often overlooked, aspects of cultural activities. A total of about $235,000 will be doled out around the state.
The library will get $9,082 for the installation of a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; All Souls is slated to receive $1,515 for a ramp at the main hall fire exit and to add an assistive listening system; and Main Street Arts will see $30,000 to install a sprinkler system that meets current fire code regulations.
"Audiences expect facilities to be accessible (entries and restrooms in particular)," according to a statement from Alexander L. Aldrich, the executive director of Vermont Arts Council. "They expect lighting, sound and projection systems to work; and they expect their venues to stay on top of the latest technological developments -- all without creating a negative impact on the overall aesthetic expectations they have.
"The organizations receiving funding in this category," he added, "have demonstrated a critical need and have the know-how and cultural background to make the most of this opportunity to ensure that, going forward, Vermont audiences will enjoy their programs for years to come.
Carol Fay, a board member of the Friends of the Wardsboro Public Library, told the Reformer she applied for the grant in May and heard back on Friday, Aug. 9. She said an old farmhouse holds the original library and it will be joined with a barn recently renovated next door to fulfill all the library's services.
She said the money is being granted to the Friends of the Wardsboro Public Library and the non-profit group that will use it to install an HVAC system. The renovation of the barn, which the Friends rent to the library along with the farmhouse, is financed by years of fundraising.
Fay said on Wednesday contractors were working on the project as she spoke and she hopes the renovation will be finished in the next couple of weeks. She said she would like the heating work to start by Sunday, Sept. 1.
"Obviously everybody needs heat in the winter," she said. "We are in Vermont, after all."
Head Librarian Jill Dean said there is no HVAC in the library now.
"We were so excited to hear about (the grant)," she said. "It's really hard to get finances and that's a big deal for us."
The library is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mondays and Thursdays; 2 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Barbro Hansson, the pastor at All Souls, did not return a call seeking comment. Neither did anyone at Main Street Arts.
The following nine entities will also receive funding from the Vermont Arts Council: Paramount Theatre of Rutland ( $30,000), Pentangle Arts Council of Woodstock ($16,000), Pope Memorial Library in Danville ($9,536), the town of Huntington ($28,942), the town of West Rutland ($30,000), Catamount Film and Arts in St. Johnsbury ($30,000), the city of Winsooki ($5,781), Goddard College ($30,000) and Lamoille County Players in Hyde Park ($13,710).
The cultural facilities grant program is administered by the Vermont Arts Council in conjunction with the Vermont Historical Society and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.