Pictured, from left, are ART26201 founding member and president Bryson VanNostrand, W.Va. Wesleyan College president Dr. James Moore, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner and Colonial Arts Center Board chair John Waltz, also WVWC's vice president for enrollment management. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Signed, sealed, delivered: The Colonial Arts Center collaboration between ART26201, W.Va. Wesleyan and the city is official

BUCKHANNON – Officials from the city, West Virginia Wesleyan College, ART26201 and the Colonial Arts Center signed a memorandum of understanding, representing their collaboration on the newly renovated CAC building on Main Street.

Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner thanked everyone from these organizations for working toward the completion of the CAC building. 

“We wouldn’t be here today without some key people in this room,” Skinner observed at Wednesday’s ceremonial signing. “[Some of those individuals are] David McCauley, whose leadership in the very beginning [led to] acquiring the property and coming to city council to get the blessing for the city to own the property; Bryson VanNostrand has been instrumental the entire time in leading the construction effort and the design effort.”

Skinner expressed gratitude for the generosity of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Board of Directors who recently pledged to contribute $50,000 to the Colonial Arts Center’s renovation efforts. He also thanked West Virginia Wesleyan College, whose president, Dr. James Moore, attended a recent council meeting to pledge assistance to the city in its efforts to revitalize the former Colonial Theater-turned-dive-bar in the form of resources and professional staff members’ expertise.

Representatives from ART26201, West Virginia Wesleyan College, the City of Buckhannon and the Colonial Arts Center on Wednesday met at City Hall for a ceremonial signing of a memorandum of understanding that outlined a four-way collaboration between the entities. From left are ART26201 founding member/president Bryson VanNostrand, WVWC president Dr. James Moore, Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner and CAC Board chair John Waltz. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

“We could not thank St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Foundation enough for their very, very generous gift to the project, and Wesleyan is coming to the table to provide a significant educational piece to all of the students that will be going through that center, because aside from being a performance space, it is an educational piece for our community, and that is that probably is the most important part of the project,” the mayor added.

Previous mayor David McCauley, legal counsel to W.Va. Wesleyan, said this collaboration between the community and the college benefits everyone.

“When Wesleyan is doing well, the City of Buckhannon, our community, is doing well and when Buckhannon is doing well, the college tends to [thrive],” McCauley said. “We’re a stronger community when we collaborate and work together – I’m not speaking for James Moore, he can speak for himself – but I think there’s a renewed sense of connectedness to the town and the young community, and that’s good for us all.”

President of West Virginia Wesleyan College Dr. James Moore said he and WVWC will always honor their steadfast commitment to the arts and arts education.

“The arts have always been very important to West Virginia Wesleyan College. Commitment to creative and performing arts are the reason that I was brought here 15 years ago to join the faculty, so it’s really fulfilling for me to see the college partner with these organizations and really, really buy into this space,” Moore said. “I’m so thrilled that one of our alums is coming on to work on this project and at a time when other institutions of higher education are running away from the arts, I think it’s important that everybody realizes they are critical to the mission of West Virginia Wesleyan College because they’re critical to this community and are part of this community, and we’re proud to be part of this community.”

The Colonial Arts Center Board recently voted to hire WVWC alum, Anne Wilson, as the arts center’s first manager.

President of the Colonial Arts Center Board John Waltz, who also serves as Wesleyan’s vice president for enrollment management, said he hopes the space flourishes, developing into a place that fulfills the community’s wants and needs.

“I just want to share on behalf of the Colonial Arts Center Board, our gratefulness to partners and to those who have been part of this project as it keeps growing; it’s really starting to become something we hope to be owned by the community,” Waltz said. “That culminated for me yesterday, hearing and seeing Anne’s enthusiasm at the board meeting and all the things she’s hoping to accomplish with it and it’s always great when someone comes and ask questions you haven’t thought about yet, so I think we’re all going to be encouraged by this. Thank you to all our community partners and everyone working with this.”

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