By Ed Harris
Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) is well into its fundraising efforts to turn the old Gura Building into an arts hub, thanks to $500,000 from the State Bond Commission.
“I want to thank former State Representative Zeke Zalaski and current State Representative Dave Zoni for their passionate advocacy in support of the project,” said State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz in a release on the bonding decision. “I also want to thank Dawn Miceli and Mary DeCroce for getting it off the ground and moving it forward. The arts center will be wonderful for the Southington community—it will give young people the opportunity to discover and improve their talents.”
Southington Town Councilor Dawn Miceli, who has been at the forefront of the effort, said the grant process was two years in the making and was double what SCCA was originally asking for.
Last month, Mary DeCroce, chairperson of the SCCA, updated the Town Council on other funding that the arts group is applying for.
“We’ve been very busy,” said DeCroce.
The group is in the process of applying for three large grants. If approved, the grants would bring $325,000 through a DECD Historic Tax Credit, a $200,000 restoration fund grant (used as reimbursement) and $257,000 in the form of state bonds.
In total, the SCCA has 17 grant applications in various stages of submission, DeCroce said.
Personal pledges have raised $176,000 and numerous fundraisers are planned for the coming months, DeCroce added.
The Gura Building used to house several town offices, but the building was vacated as the new Municipal Center opened.
After a couple litigious Town Council meetings, SCCA was allowed to lease the building for one dollar a year and begin an 18-month fundraising period to raise 80 percent of the renovation costs. This would require SCCA to raise $1.36 million.
The group was optimistic from the get go, bolstered by agencies like the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, which funded a feasibility study on the project, classifying the Gura Building as historically valuable.
To go along with hosting events and exhibiting artwork, the proposed arts building would also include a number of services, including an art supply store and studio space rental.