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Connections: Springville Center for the Arts

spvlcaBy Jeff Martin

I love it when small towns do big things.

Before I moved from Springville and into the Ellicottville area, the Springville Center for the Arts (SCA) was celebrating the announcement that the organization, founded in the late ë80s, had received $829,120 in grant money from the Regional Economic Development Council program.

I remember reading that figure a few times, wondering if it was a typo. Well, it wasnít, I soon discovered, and then I moved out of town. But, as time wore on, I kept thinking about the significance of an all-volunteer organization and how, even in the smallest of towns, those same volunteers can achieve big things.

Seth Wochensky, executive director for SCA, said recently that the organization is on schedule regarding its two major projects, funded by the grant money. About half of the money, or $434,310, will be used to repair and expand the centerís headquarters at a former Baptist Church just off Main Street, while the remaining funds will be used to repair and convert a building on Main Street into a mixed-use arts center.

That building, which I remember passing often and wondering if it was even open, will include artist residences, exhibition, a cafe and performance spaces. Workshops will also be part of the SCAís overall mission, though one thing at a time.

ìAt some point,î Wochensky said, laughing. ìWe have to get through all this planning and building first.î

Working in the news business for nearly 12 years, Iíve discovered that many ó if not most ó of the major aesthetic projects in a city or village wouldnít be completed if it werenít for volunteers.

In Missouri, where I recently moved from, a group of historic-minded citizens got together and raised nearly $60,000 to help move a historic train depot to safe ground. In Ohio, where I worked for a paper, a small group swooped down and purchased an old building from the wrecking ball.

And now this.

Wochensky said the level of volunteerism in Springville is staggering. In promoting SCA as a destination for the arts, both he and others have promoted the center as a way of bringing economic investment to a small village that needed it ó especially after Wal-Mart built its supercenter beyond Main Street.

Back in 2007, the community raised $100,000 to purchase the church off Main Street. It took off quickly, Wochensky said, with exhibit offers, film screenings and classes. I stopped in shortly after I moved into town and looked at a photography exhibit. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Wochensky is excited about the upcoming season, specifically summer activities that are geared toward children and young adults. It begins with a performance of ìThe Boy Who Tricked the Moonî on May 11 at the church at 37 North Buffalo St.

On May 4, the center will present its annual Spring Art Crawl from 6-9 p.m. Several businesses on Main Street will host temporary exhibits by over 50 artists. There will be

several forms of experimental mixed media offerings including watercolors, wheat pastings, metalworking and more.

On the same day, the Arts Underground, located at 66 E. Main St., will open. The new store will feature fine craft and smaller artwork from local artists.

ìItís an exciting time to be in Springville,î Wochensky said.

For more information, contact Springville Center for the Arts by calling (716) 592-9038 or visit www.springvillearts.org.

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