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Newport Visual Arts Center: Brainstorming toward a better future – public meeting at the VAC Jan. 4, 1;30pm

Visual Arts Center Nye Beach Preserving facility for the visual arts - exploring public and private funding.

Visual Arts Center
Nye Beach
Preserving facility for the visual arts – exploring public and private funding.

The Newport City Council, faced with financial pressures to replace the town’s seriously aging water, sewer and storm drain distribution systems, is looking to re-focus on what are the basics of municipal services. Although the council has repeatedly agreed that the arts are a core element of Newport’s civic and cultural DNA, the council also has called on the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts to find ways to ease the burden of maintaining and improving the Visual Arts Center (VAC) – switching it mainly from the taxpayers to include patrons of the arts throughout the region, along with the pursuit of grants and other forms of supplemental revenue.

In response, the Arts Council has been brainstorming various funding options to, if not completely support the VAC, then at least dramatically reduce its reliance on the city’s check book.

The Arts Council has already had one brainstorming session among members and arts supporters to explore money raising ideas. They’re holding another session on Saturday, January 4th, 1:30pm, at the VAC, the big yellow building just above the Nye Beach Turnaround.

Thus far ideas include holding community fundraisers, more promotions at the VAC to enhance rental and special event fees, the city selling the VAC for a low amount (if it’s to a non-profit arts related agency), among other things.

According to city officials the over thirty year old building is in need of some very expensive renovating and pricey repairs. The VAC also sits atop one of the most highly prized locations in Newport with a sweeping view of the coast, from the Yaquina Head Lighthouse to the north to nearly Government Park to the south. Value of the property has been estimated from $1.5 to $2.5 million. But city Community Development Director Derrick Tokos maintains “that’s just a guesstimate at this point.” No formal appraisal has been done on the property since, based on what the city council has been saying lately, “the VAC is not for sale,” there is no reason to have the VAC appraised.

As stated above, the council has been exploring ways to help move the city forward on getting its sewer, water and storm drain lines up to some sort of improved minimum level. Ways to raise money for such an expensive endeavor includes reducing or eliminating support for the VAC, establishing a new “North of the Bridge” urban renewal area, dramatically downgrading the city’s support of its municipal airport (reducing or eliminating the city’s estimated $300,000 a year subsidy), asking for voter approval of a property tax override, raising sewer and water rates yet again, as well as disposing of some of Newport’s city-owned land and facilities that have little current value to the city.

At any rate, the Oregon Coast Council for the Art’s next public brainstorming session is scheduled for Saturday, January 4th starting at 1:30pm at the VAC. They say they’ll try to keep it to two hours.

For more information call the VAC at 541-265-6540.

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