By Lisa Cappobianco
Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) will hold a raffle at Pilgrim Furniture City in an effort to raise money to turn the old Gura Building into an arts center.
Mary DeCroce, chairperson of SCCA, said the winners will receive $25,000 worth of furniture. The raffle will begin September 15 and run through February 9.
Volunteers from SCCA will sell up to 1,000 tickets for $100 at the furniture store. The organization will choose the winning ticket at Southington’s Pilgrim Furniture City on February 9 at 8:30 p.m. The doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and the event will start with a gala party filled with food and beverages, followed by an auction.
DeCroce said the raffle is a great way for the community to win a valuable prize while supporting the arts in town.
“It is in demand and it is a necessity for our town,” DeCroce said. “Having space to work in and having kids and adults use it really is my dream.”
SCCA Board Member Dawn Miceli said the fundraiser provides an “interesting opportunity” for residents and non-residents of Southington.
“This fundraiser is so unique, and is going to generate different levels of interest in the community,” Miceli said.
The Gura Building formerly housed several town offices, but became abandoned when the Municipal Center opened. The town allowed SCCA to lease the building for one dollar a year and start an 18-month fundraising period to make 80 percent of the renovation costs. This means SCCA would have to raise $1.36 million. In June, the State Bond Commission gave the SCCA a grant worth $500,000. The SCCA also has applied for three large grants, which are in the waiting process of approval.
Besides hosting art programs and exhibiting artwork, the proposed arts building would also include five rental art studios and an art supply store. DeCroce said the center would offer “everything on a small scale,” including a pottery room, classrooms, a catering kitchen and a “blackbox” theater that also serves as a gallery and can hold up to 75 people.
Miceli said the proposed arts center will be a great opportunity for the town culturally and economically.
“We really don’t have an arts center in town,” Miceli said. “I also saw the need for it as an economic driver in the area.”
DeCroce said the proposed arts center “opens a window for a whole population of people” including children, adults, the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Once SCCA raises all the money required to fund the project, DeCroce said she expects construction on the Gura Building to begin by fall 2014, with a grand opening by spring 2015.