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Selectman Reynolds Pitches Art Space for Avery

The Avery Re-Use Committee will hold a 'business' meeting in early December to begin whittling down options.

Selectman Paul Reynolds took a step toward Tuesday evening as he presented an idea that would turn the current into a place for artists to create, display and learn.

Artspace, a company that specializes in restoring old buildings for artistic use, told Reynolds that the Avery School holds potential, Reynolds said. 

"We see that other people have done it across the country, so we know it is possible, we know it is feasible," Reynolds said.

The Avery Re-Use Committee, tasked with finding a pernament use for the current school has begun thinking about public/private partnerships after many town departments declined use of the facility. The committee is scheduled to make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen next month.

Reynolds, who advocated for artist space in Dedham when he ran for selectmen in March, pictures a place that could include galleries, performance space, a coffee shop, artist store and studios.

"All this is, is a vision to try and allow something to emerge from this after a year of discussion," Reynolds said. "Could this be a creative solution to our community's needs?"

Neighbors have resisted any inkling that a reincarnation of the school involve housing.

Pointing to dozens of examples across the country - - Reynolds said a company like Artspace, a nonprofit organization, could transform the building into something very desirable for artists looking to escape increasing rents in southern Boston neighborhoods.

Committee chair Joe Heisler also paid a visit to a Concord arts center that is a tad bigger than the size of Avery, and opened without a major rehabilitation to the building. According to Heisler, the Concord center operates on a $1 million budget, with a good portion raised through rental of studio space.

"They took existing classrooms and created [...] studio space, but because of the big, high windows like we have [at Avery], the artists just love them," Heisler said. "

The committee will continue to meet and discuss all ideas, ultimately pitching a couple suggestions to the selectmen, who in turn will support one idea to send to Town Meeting. 

"We've heard a lot of interesting ideas over the course," Heisler said. "This is one step along the road, but I'd like to think that we've done a good job of flushing out a lot of the ideas."

marietta November 17, 2011 at 08:14 PM
I love this idea!!!! As an artists and resident of Dedham, I think this would really bring something to the community that we don't have.

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