County has bright future for arts

The Shelby County Arts Council has launched its capital campaign for an ambitious project: a proposed 26,000-square-foot community arts center to be built in Columbiana.

The community arts building would contain a black box theater, orchestra hall, art gallery, courtyard, art and music classrooms and a dance studio. It would serve as a space for both performances and art education.

Terri Sullivan, who announced the launch of the capital campaign during the Feb. 2 “Celebration of the Arts” fundraiser luncheon, said she expected that the proposed community arts building would bring 150 people per weekday to Columbiana, and 300 people per day on the weekends.

The project would be a boon to Columbiana’s economy — if at least 150 people per day were pouring into Columbiana to take art classes or see performances, existing retailers and restaurants should see a steep uphill climb in business. It’s likely that new retailers and restaurants would consider moving to Columbiana — instantly helping to revitalize the city’s downtown.

Montevallo could also be taking steps soon to further the arts. Residents recently poured into a Montevallo Finance Committee meeting to discuss possible uses for the vacant Victory Auto building, which is adjacent to Montevallo City Hall.

The Montevallo Arts Council proposed an “arts incubator,” or fabrication lab, to take up part of the space in the vacant building.

The fabrication lab would potentially contain a laser etcher, rapid prototyping machine and CNC cutter, of which there are only two in the Birmingham area. Such a facility would attract University of Montevallo students, engineers, architects, artists and hobbyists, according to Montevallo Arts Council Board member Elisabeth Pallathy.

Mayor Hollie Cost also suggested that the building could be used as a theater, antique mall, community center or crafts guild-art market. Any of those uses would help Montevallo — and Shelby County — in its goal to bring more art to our local community.

We commend our local leaders for recognizing the essential place the arts have in our community and working hard to make Shelby County an arts destination for the state of Alabama.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.