MORGANTOWN — For more than 40 years, the Monongalia Arts Center has focused on providing affordable, accessible arts to the community.
While that remains the ultimate goal, it’s time for something new.
New creative vision.
At least that’s the plan.
Michael Cardi, vice president of the MAC board of directors, spoke recently about the center’s future, including the multimillion dollar effort to restore the historic post office building at 107 High St. that has been MAC’s home since 1978.
“Growing up in Morgantown, I think a lot of people could tell you about their own experiences at MAC. I can remember summer classes down at the MAC building,” Cardi said. “But as the building deteriorated over the years, I think the programming became a bit stagnant. That and the creation of other art centers around town made it tough to fulfill our mission.”
Now, both the mission and the building are ready for some touching up.
The MAC board joined forces with one of the building’s other tenants, Your Community Foundation, to form HPO (Historic Post Office Building, Inc.), a nonprofit focused on saving and renovating the 108-year-old building.
The organization kicked off a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign on Feb. 2.
Cardi said MAC is also in the process of organizing a community needs assessment that will help map its future.
“This collaboration with YCF and the formation of HPO has given us hope that we can really reinvigorate MAC and we’re in a really exciting time, I think, because we’re looking at this blueprint of this building and thinking, ‘What can we offer here? What can we offer that is not offered elsewhere in the city?’ ” Cardi said.
“We need to determine that. What options are there – a graphic design lab where we can provide access for people in the community to toy around with at low cost? Is it music recording? Things that, I think , your average kid or adult in town may not know where to go or how to do it or afford it. So this is really an exciting time for MAC just because there are so many possibilities.”
Further, the MAC board is looking for a leader to help make those possibilities a reality. Ro Brooks, MAC’s executive director of 23 years, retired in September.
Billy Atkins, a board member with YCF and HPO said he’s excited about the future of both MAC and the building, which he envisions as a focal point of arts in Morgantown and beyond.
“The communities that have vibrant arts communities, they have an arts center, a focal point where they can bring these organizations together and give them a place to offer classes, performances, a variety of things,” he said.
“MAC has done a wonderful job of keeping that place open for a number of years, but what they’re envisioning now is much more expansive.”
More information about HPO’s plans, as well as details about how to contribute to the effort, can be found at hpomorgantown.com.