Seed money transfers to Hernando arts and entertainment group

BROOKSVILLE — A new non-profit group now has seed money to help set up a venue for music and dance performances, studios, classrooms for arts education and an art gallery.

And the organizers can thank a donation of money once earmarked for another cultural center.

County commissioners voted last week to transfer $30,000 from the capital funds account belonging to the Hernando County Fine Arts Council to the Cultural Arts and Entertainment Center Inc., which was formed last month by representatives from several local arts groups.

The money was once part of a $100,000 donation from Hernando County that commissioners earmarked for the Fine Arts Council's ill-fated Nimmagadda Cultural Center.

When the council abandoned the project in 2003 for financial reasons, the group returned $70,000 to the county, and commissioners agreed to leave $30,000 in a reserve fund to be used if the arts council decided to recommit to building a center.

Fine Arts Council executive director Myndee Washington said that establishing a cultural center is more than her small, financially strapped organization can currently undertake. Turning the money over to the Cultural Arts and Entertainment Center group seemed like the best option.

"A project like this needs people with vision and the ability to get the community involved," said Washington, who serves as vice chairwoman of the group. "You can't make the same mistakes that others made before you."

Washington said that raising the necessary funds to build and operate the center will no doubt be the greatest challenge.

The group is busy mapping out a strategy to go after private donors and grants, and plans to kick off its fundraising effort with a presentation Sept. 8 at the Quarry Enrichment Center in Brooksville.

Meanwhile, several potential sites are being considered for a center.

At the top of the list is the defunct Hernando Suzuki dealership on Cortez Boulevard, a 6,600-square-foot building that Washington said has ample under-roof space for an auditorium, plus classrooms, studios and offices.

But if the group can't negotiate the $1.9 million asking price, Washington said they will look elsewhere.

"I'm very optimistic," Washington said. "People in our community have always been supportive of the arts. I think once they see this, it's an idea they will be very willing to get behind."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

Seed money transfers to Hernando arts and entertainment group 08/18/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:49pm]

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