Creativity Center opens for classes at AuSable Artisan Village
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Following a year and half of renovations, the AuSable Artisan Village is prepared to foster the arts in the Grayling area from the ground up.
Volunteers recently completed work on an $80,000 project to renovate the basement of its building, located at 219 Michigan Avenue.
A total of $40,000 for the project was raised by the AuSable Artisan Village and a $25,000 grant was provided by Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The remaining $15,000 came from AuSable Artisan Village’s general fund budget.
“I didn’t want try to do a second fundraiser,” said Terry Dickinson, the director of AuSable Artisan Village. “I didn’t want to tire people out in terms of asking for more money, so we had the money, and we just finished the project.”
The basement level features a meeting room and the Creativity Center, where classes will be taught to students of all ages. It also includes storage spaces for kilns, other large equipment, and supplies.
Classes for grade school students will be offered at the center since local schools don’t budget funds for art classes.
“We felt it would be appropriate for us, as an arts center, to pick up that slack and offer some opportunities for elementary age kids to have some experiences,” Dickinson said.
Classes will also be offered to supplement art education students receive in middle school and high school.
Classes will be offered to adults, who can come in periodically to work on their art projects.
Upcoming plans also call for bringing in top national artists for high-end art classes. Those will cost $450 to $500 per person.
“That’s the kind of thing we’re looking at to bring some high-end classes into this area, because transportation wise it’s an ideal location,” Dickinson said. “It’s easy to get to Grayling. I think we can make it successful, and eventually, I think we make some money doing it.”
The AuSable Artisan Village opened in downtown Grayling in 2011. The non-profit organization weathered some tough times three years ago, but has since become successful.
“From that point on it’s just been a nice steady incline,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson said the ultimate goal for the AuSable Artisan Village is to rival the Crooked Tree Arts Center, which has locations in Petoskey and Traverse City. That center is funded through philanthropy and its members.
The AuSable Artisan Village is supported by the retail sales of artists who have their work on display at the gallery. Some of those revenues go toward paying monthly operating and maintenance expenses.
“We don’t have to be out there fundraising every year in order to pay the electric bill and in order to pay the mortgage, because that’s all taken care by the retail end of it,” Dickinson said.
Now, as the AuSable Village raises money, it can offer classes to children at a nominal cost and continue to provide the free monthly concerts.
“That’s what those donations can go towards, is to provide those experience to the kids and the concerts, which is a service to the community,” Dickinson said.