Chestnut Center for the Arts, Marshfield
by Allie Schaitel, Arts Wisconsin intern, UW-Whitewater
The Chestnut Center for the Arts (CCA) an important northcentral Wisconsin cultural center. Since 2003, the Chestnut Center has fulfilled its mission to “create a lively center for the community to enjoy the arts in all forms.” The CCA plays host to a variety of events including classes, concerts, workshops, art shows, and more in a convenient downtown location. Visitors are able to experience and enjoy any art form that may suit their taste. The Center believes that it is essential for small communities such as Marshfield to have a space that brings people together and showcases local artistry and culture.
Many of the events and programs held are family-friendly, enriching, foster creativity, and allow for community members to meet and mingle. In addition to arts and community programming, the Chestnut Center for the Arts provides a public space that can be rented out for weddings, teaching and rehearsal spaces, and as a space for community or business groups. The CCA works hard to understand the community’s needs and to stay up-to-date with its facility, branding, and programming. The Board of Directors, the Executive Director, volunteers, and donors are all dedicated to making the organization the best it can be. All of these people are putting in the time and effort to making improvements and keeping the CCA growing, changing, and running smoothly.
In an interview with Adam Smrcka, Executive Director of the Chestnut Center for the Arts, learn more about the history, staff, and plans for the organization, and their upcoming signature event,Lift Up the Arts, taking place on September 17.
What is the history of your organization? The non-profit Chestnut Center for the Arts was founded in summer of 2003 by a local couple, community arts supporters who had common vision to transform a historic building into a community arts center. Chestnut Center for the Arts exists today due to broad community support.
What is its mission, vision, and purpose? To create a lively center for the community to enjoy the arts in all forms. The Chestnut Center for the Arts is Marshfield’s non-profit community venue for the visual and performing arts, educational classes, gallery exhibits, workshops and special events. The arts center also houses individual artists’ and musicians’ studios. Our goal is to offer a broad scope of programming and opportunities to enjoy or participate in the arts that appeal to all age demographics and families.
Describe some programs and services for the community and how you foster community involvement. CCA provides entertainment programming such as concerts, plays, gallery exhibits customized arts based parties, High Tea social events, special fundraising events (Bone Shakin’ Bash Halloween costume party, Holiday Showcase event (holiday shopping by artist and crafter vendors, holiday music)…
Our biggest event is the “Going Nutz for the Arts” summer arts camp for kids ages 5-11. Kids explore a themed week based in a culture to explore through 2D, 3D, music, rhythm and outdoor activities. During our test year in 2014 we had 15 participants, in 2015 we had 50 kids, and this July, in our third year, we had nearly 70 kids over 2 weeks.
Who works at the Chestnut Center for the Arts? Who’s on your board? I’m the Executive Director, and we have a part time Office Manager and Office Assistant, who work really, hard to make a good experience for our audiences, on staff. The Board of Directors is made up of 12 dedicated community members with unique and varying professional backgrounds.
What partners do you work with? We work with our local businesses, K-12 schools, community members and a whole army of volunteers to bring our programming to the Marshfield area community.
What are CCA’s plans for the future? CCA has reached a very important point in its 13 year history. Since I started this job three years ago we have gone through a total rebranding of the center with a new logo and website, a nearly 22,000 square foot building needing a major aesthetic overhaul, creating this arts camp. (which some thought was a crazy idea), implementing art education classes, continuing to find wonderful performers to fill our historic performance hall, finding tenants for our studios and kitchen, creating a professional gallery, creating special events like our Cork and Canvas/Clay parties, High Tea parties, the Bone Shakin’ Bash Halloween costume party, expanding our annual Holiday Showcase event, creating our Signature Event : LIFT UP THE ARTS, lighting a fire of passion in the board of directors, and most importantly ensuring our incredible volunteers knew how much we love them and appreciate their support.
We have a long way to go…our Board of Directors has new leadership and new enthusiastic board members, we have some crazy fun ideas in the works and I can honestly say there’s no place I’d rather be.
We have some very large infrastructure needs, including a a new heating system, a roof over our education wing, and an elevator or lift to make our building accessible. So we are entering into major fundraising mode…trying to give access to giving by implementing online giving….exploring things like Go Fund Me options for splitting up some of these costly items.
Describe a really interesting project that you want people to know about. We’re excited about our upcoming signature event, Lift Up The Arts! This is a vital fundraiser supporting the eclectic and unique arts programming to the Marshfield area community. This event raised nearly $15,000 in our
inaugural year! This year Lift Up The Arts will be held Saturday, September 17th from 6:00-11:00 p.m. As Director, I invite everyone to join us on this exciting night to support the importance of the arts in our community and the Chestnut Center for the Arts.
Learn more about the Chestnut Center for the Arts at www.chestnutarts.org.