Carlisle Arts Learning Center Hits Fundraising Stride

Patriot News
By Eric Veronikis
August 22, 2013

CARLISLE – In December, when the Carlisle Arts Learning Center set out to raise $550,000 to renovate its new West Pomfret Street space, the Capital Campaign Committee gave itself three years to drum up the funds.

Volunteers and staff hoped the campaign would hit its stride this year, but they never could have imagined that roughly 9 months later, the nonprofit gallery and education center would have raised 75 percent of that goal.

Thanks to generous community support, CALC has a fighting shot at hitting its goal by the end of the year, said Carrie Breschi, CALC’s executive director.

“The community support has been tremendous,” Breschi said.

After nearly 20 years, CALC outgrew its home at 19 N. Hanover St. and moved to the historic Empire Hook & Ladder Co. firehouse at 38 W. Pomfret St. in May.

The approximately 5,500-square-foot building isn’t that much bigger than the center’s last home, but the move provided CALC with a much more functional space to host art shows, events and classes for children and adults, said Becky Richeson, CALC’s director of development.

To pay for the new space, which boasts roughly 15-foot-high ceilings and old architectural touches at nearly every corner, CALC used proceeds from the sale of its previous home.

The organization took out a loan to pay for renovations and expand its new space, which last housed the defunct California Café. CALC intends to use the capital campaign to repay the debt.

Just like any other move, CALC’s has involved a tremendous amount of sweat equity, and the past several months have felt like a whirlwind, Breschi said.

So during a recent staff meeting, Breschi asked employees to stop, take a breath, and consider whether all the uncertainty and work associated with the move has been worthwhile.

“Looking back on it, there is no doubt we made the right decision,” Breschi said. “This is a practical space where people can come enjoy the gallery, while classes are going on.”

CALC had to use its gallery to host summer camps and classes, so trying to have a discussion, or enjoy artwork and sculptures on display in a serene environment often was a tough proposition, Richeson said.

Still, she and Breschi said that working out of its old location for nearly two decades makes everyone involved with CALC that much more appreciative of the new gallery.

Breschi is one of CALC’s 10 founding members, and she credits Charlie Andrews, owner of Carlisle’s Garden Gallery, as the driving force behind the establishment of the center.

The purpose of the center hasn’t changed since its founding, she said. CALC is all about promoting the arts, and the important role it plays in life, whether through exhibits, classes or community outreach, she said.

“(Andrews), like many others, didn’t want to see a community like Carlisle without an arts organization like this,” Breschi said. “I’m a huge believer in the arts, and its role in creative thinking, especially in children.”

In its new, modern space, CALC has two classrooms, a first-floor art gallery, a second-story gallery/event space, and adjoining rooms that serve as offices, storage and staging areas, all of which Richeson said “allows (CALC) to hold multi-faceted functions without being on top of one another.”

Shows featuring two artists rotate every six weeks in the front half of the gallery, with paintings, photos and other two-dimensional images appearing on walls, as sculptures and various other three-dimensional pieces created by another artist dot the floor space.

The rear half of the gallery serves as a sales space for a number of different artists.

CALC’s children’s summer camp just wrapped after nine weeks, and the organization’s after-school middle school program is set to open.

The show now on display in the gallery is titled: “A Farm in Four Seasons,” featuring photographs by Carlisle resident Linda Benzen, and metal sculpture crafted from old farm machinery and equipment by Gastski Metal Sculpture & Furniture based in Bloomsburg. A Farm in Four Seasons will be on display at CALC through Sept. 7.

A variety of events, including an Art on the Farm at Dickinson College on Sept. 22; and a Martini Auction at St. Patrick’s Social Hall on Nov. 9, are planned for the fall.

For more information on CALC and how to help support the center, visitwww.carlislearts.org.

If You Go:

CALC is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and by appointment.