In the past several months there have been lots of ideas and discussions, online and off, regarding the future of Greenfield’s business district. While it is likely true that the mom and pop retail stores of the past will remain in the past, something must be done with the empty storefronts left behind. Well, something is afoot that will result in the filling of a major vacant space, the large brick and stone building sitting near the Southeast corner of Jefferson and Washington streets, formerly housing Gentlemen’s Business Association and earlier, Bernie’s Restaurant.
The owners of the building, Phil and Connie Clyburn, have generously granted the use of it to a group of energetic and talented area artist to be turned into a community center for promoting the arts. Currently known as SPARK! Creative Artspace, the effort will begin in the ground floor space and later expand into the second floor area which for decades housed the Elks Lodge and later New Directions. This effort is not part of the Designing Greenfield project directed by architect Doug Karnes but Karnes is providing his services to help SPARK! design the most efficient use of its spaces.
Once the doors are open it is hoped the facility will be used for studio space, areas for music and dance lessons, art lessons for children and adults, culinary demonstrations and tastings, how to workshops, gallery showings, theatre projects, and performance space for musical groups of many genres. The space could also be rented out to people and groups for various events and pop-up activities. SPARK! plans to be an inclusive organization offering programs and events for the entire community.
While the Clyburns are providing the space rent free, SPARK! still has to come up with enough funding to pay for the taxes, utilities, and insurance costs. Until such time that it should become self-sustaining it will have to depend on donations from every part of the community. To facilitate contributions SPARK! has attained non-profit status making all contributions totally tax-deductible. Donations, small or large, can be sent to:
SPARK! Creative Artspace, PO Box 325, Greenfield, OH 45123.
Also in the works is a website on which the public will be notified of upcoming events, general information about SPARK!, link to other important and related sites, and a means of directly making donations online using credit card and PayPal accounts. At the moment the URL for the site is http://sparkcreativearts.wordpress.com but it is under development and a work in progress.
In addition to monetary support SPARK! is also needing old-fashioned sweat equity (muscle power) to get the building cleaned up, redesigned, painted, etc. It is creating a list of those who would be available for occasional work parties to help with the effort. If you’re up to helping in such a way just email your name and contact information to SPARK. You could also post it at the bottom of this article in the form of a comment.
SPARK! has surmounted the major hurdles and is entering the get the building ready phase. The hope is the doors will open and the public can begin enjoying all it has to offer within the next couple of months.
While I don’t know all the people involved in SPARK! a list of names would include, Jennifer Wenker, Cindi Pearce, Sara Lukens, Susan Long, Eric Salyers, Kris Cross, Candy Hopkins, Ron Dudley, Lanny Bryant, Tati Weaks, Shari Royse-Bellar, Elaine Williams, and many more. If you’re an artist and interested in knowing more or wanting to become active in SPARK!, please get in contact with one of the persons on the above list or email Jennifer Wenker.
Here are a number of photographs showing the current interior of the SPARK! space. The first phase will involve the removal of the items stored there. Volunteer muscle needed!