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Arts council signs lease on new location

July 09, 1997

By KAREN MASTERSON

Staff Writer

Representatives of the Washington County Arts Council signed a five-year lease last week for what will be the organization's new location at 41 S. Potomac St., said Barbara Bland, the council's executive director.

The council originally looked for a new location on Washington Street, but settled for South Potomac after the Chamber of Commerce designated that block as the city's arts and entertainment district, she said.

She said that Steve Wright, owner of the 41 S. Potomac St. building, wanted the council, along with its art gallery and literary review, to move in as tenants. Wright was on the gallery's planning committee during relocation discussions, she said.

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Bland said the council raised grant money for renovations needed in order for the building to be suitable.

Wright is "very glad. He gets his building upgraded and we get a very nice facility to move in to," Bland said.

The council raised $50,000 for the move, two-thirds of which will go toward fixing the building, said Natoma Vargason, who is managing the move for the arts council.

The space is three times larger than the Franklin Street site, Bland said. "We will be able to present art work in an environment where people can actually stand back from it."

The council, which runs the Franklin Street Gallery and the Antietam Review, is moving to the same block of South Potomac Street occupied by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Tres School for the Arts, The Maryland Theatre and several restaurants.

Wright is putting up roughly $18,000 for the renovations, she said. The state is providing about $22,000 through a grant from the Neighborhood Business Development Program.

Other donations include: $2,500 from last year's state grant for the arts council; $2,500 from Preservation Maryland, a nonprofit organization that funds historically significant properties; $4,000 from the City of Hagerstown; $2,000 from the Gaming Commission; and smaller grants from several private companies.

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