Raising $1 million one brick at a time

By C.J. Barbre

Newly elected president of the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council Pam Kimball has her work cut out for her.

While the LCAC has been looking at sites and making some progress at fund raising for a Lindsay Museum and Cultural Arts Center over the last few years, the city of Lindsay has gone ahead with plans for a new library on the vacant parcel of land on the southwest corner of Samoa Street and Mirage Avenue.

Having had very satisfactory results with EBM Design Group of Visalia that has designed the Wellness Center, the city asked EBM to submit a preliminary design for the library and for a Lindsay Museum and Cultural Arts Center on the same parcel. This would make the complex a major downtown draw with totally compatible architecture at a better rate than could be done separately.

At their Nov. 2 meeting, Townsend told the LCAC that the city as $750,000 committed from the USDA for a loan at 4.5 percent over 40 years. They also have a commitment from the county for $750,000 toward the library. Townsend has said previously that the cost of building the library is estimated at $1.5 million.

For its part, LCAC is expected to come up with $1 million for the museum/cultural arts center, twice the amount members had previously discussed regarding the cost of such a facility. That comes down to an estimated $125 to $150 per square foot.

Townsend suggested that the arts council enter into a contract with the designers to add substance and resolve to their commitment to the project, according to the minutes of their November meeting.

At the arts council's Dec. 7 meeting LCAC treasurer Don Bessey said there is a contract coming from the architect. "We thought that it would legitimize our resolve to have an architectural contract to go forward," he told the dozen board members present. He said the cost estimates have gone up because of the increased square footage from the approximate 4,000 square feet the LCAC had originally envisioned to 7,000.

"I think we need to have serious discussions if there is a way we can do that and how we can keep the doors open to this $1 million building," Kimball said at this, her first official meeting as president of the board. "And how will we maintain it? We can't just build it had have it sit there. We have to figure out how we are going to get people in there and what we will have in it."

"The question of maintenance has always been a problem for the [Lindsay] Art Association," Bessey said.

Kimball said volunteers could be used for much of the work but she said they would need one paid person to oversee the operations. "What do you envision happening inside that building once it's built?" she asked the members.

"It almost has to be multi-functional," Gary Meling said, "with other events and things." Meling's primary interest has been in antique engines including heavy involvement in the Restore the Fire Truck Committee under the umbrella of the arts council.

Kimball asked if the board members could envision the public paying to go into a Lindsay museum.

"Maybe after we are open, but we have to have those things in place before we charge," said board member Yonok Warson.

Kimball kept directing the members to think their way through the possibilities and realities of such a project. Was it to be primarily a museum, or a place for school children? How often would exhibits change or be rotated?

President of the Lindsay Art Association and LCAC board member Gayle Johnson said it would be primarily for children, a place where they could write and direct plays and give performances, where they could study music or have musical performances, "whatever they want to do."

"The possibilities are endless," Bessey agreed.

"It sounds clearly like we would need a paid director," Kimball surmised.

Then board members sounded like they were backing off. Someone mentioned possibly using a building the directors had previously viewed.

Kimball said if all they wanted was a little history museum and art exhibit there were any number of suitable locations a lot less costly and complex. "I can't see much of a draw outside of Lindsay [for that kind of setup]. But if we want to do more we need a bigger building. If you want multi-purpose, it has to be like this plan."

Board member Norm Ingoldsby said it would take some grant money. Bessey said he had a list of where to get money for art buildings.

Kimball responded, "I talked to Scot about the possibility of grants. His take was there is money to help minority groups - the disadvantaged minority children if you're trying to expose children to the arts. There's no money to preserve Lindsay history. Nobody cares."

Bessey added that such grants, according to Townsend, are going to be in the $25,000 – $50,000 range, not the big bucks.

"Locally we need to focus on history, but to go after grant money we have to focus on minority children and what we're going to provide for them," Kimball said. She noted that the school curriculum doesn't offer much in the arts.

Board member Bob Tienken offered that grant monies for children's programs would not be applicable toward the cost of the building.

That stark observation switched the possible funding sources to the topic of charitable trusts and how they are set up, how to avoid estate taxes. It was noted that heirs would be giving up only what would otherwise go to the government.

"What I am envisioning is that we get a good understanding of this and then approach people," Kimball said.

Meling said it should be clear that people don't have to die to donate.

"But we don't want them to die without donating," was Kimball's immediate response. She said they needed a solid plan, "or nobody is going to give us any money." She said this should be evident in the bylaws.

Johnson said changing the bylaws would be a prohibitive task, but they could change the mission statement.

"I want us to sharpen our focus," Kimball said.

A mission statement committee was formed including Pam Kimball, Bob Tienken, Gayle Johnson and Don Bessey.

The meeting moved on to other topics including sending out membership dues letters. Kimball said the letters could mention the bricks.

"We're missing the boat on bricks for former residents of Lindsay," Tienken said. Over the summer Tienken brought forth the suggestion that the Arts Council sell memorial bricks as a fund raiser. They are simply that - ordinary bricks, but with a plaque attached with the donor's name at a cost of $125 per brick.

They were designated "Leave Your Mark Brick" to be used in "Walks and Walls of Fame" in the new Cultural Arts Center & Museum according to a promotional flyer printed by the arts council. Ingoldsby said they only need to sell 8,000 bricks to raise that million dollars. He said 800 bricks would net $100,000. So far the arts council has sold 52 bricks, raising $6,500.

It was suggested they set a goal of selling $1,000 worth of bricks by April 15 or tax time.

"Let's come back in January with ideas for promoting bricks," Kimball said.

The next meeting of the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at the LCAC Gallery and gift shop at 145 W. Hermosa St.

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