Art Center East is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in La Grande, Oregon with a mission to inspire, enrich, and interlace Eastern Oregon communities through creative expression.
We provide a diverse selection of arts programming with over 400 classes, 15+ gallery exhibits, and several free community events each year. In addition to working as an advocate for local artists and the arts economy, Art Center East is a gathering place where the community can connect with, support, and learn from one another.
Highlights of our annual programming include: 40+ teaching artists experienced in a wide variety of disciplines, from painting, ceramics and stained glass to folk dancing, bread baking, and macrame; two community music ensembles; a monthly literary event; free art activities at our Art at the Market booth; and art classes designed specifically for youth, supplemented through our Youth Scholarship program. Two annual open exhibits - The Big and our Annual Fiber Arts exhibit - offer regular opportunities for local artists to showcase their work. Each November, we host the popular Handmade Holidays, where local artists and makers can sell their goods, and our year-round Gift Gallery provides a regular venue for working artists to earn income from their art.
What We are Funding
We are located in a historic Carnegie Library building owned by the City of La Grande. Since it was built before ADA accessibility was a requirement for public buildings, half of our building is only accessible by stairs. This includes our two exhibit galleries, gift gallery, wellness studio, and event space, where we host all of our free community events and gatherings.
We want this space to be accessible to everyone and we have a unique opportunity to make that happen! The La Grande City Council recently pledged to partially fund a new lift. Though the building is owned by the City, Art Center East believes that matching those funds fits our mission of bringing the arts to all people in the community. We’re launching a capital campaign to raise the other half of the cost to give the arts a lift in Union County!
The cost to retrofit the 5th Street entrance of our building and install an external lift will be up to $100,000. The City of La Grande has pledged to fund half of the total cost, up $50,000, leaving the remaining balance up to us. And we have one year to raise it! We are seeking up to $40,000 in the form of grants and community partnerships and we are asking art supporters and community members like you to help us raise the first $10,000 in order to make this dream of a fully accessible art center come true for our community.
We're setting a goal of raising $10,000 from our community by September 1, 2019. Raising the first $10K by that date makes our grant applications and sponsorship requests stronger because it shows community backing and further punctuates our need. Your contribution is the first step in making ADA accessibility a reality at Art Center East!
While we do not yet have bids for the project, we estimate it as costing between $60,000 - $100,000. We are launching our fundraising campaign now because the City's pledged backing will be available only through spring of 2020. We want to have our funding lined up so the project can begin as soon as possible once the bidding process is complete.
In 2018, we invited our community to share why ADA accessibility at Art Center East is important to them. Here are a few of the responses we got:
"ADA accessibility is of critical importance! Lack of accessibility sends a message that people with mobility issues are not welcome. This not only affects that one person, it also affects their friends, family, and colleagues. While some people may be disabled, it's important to remember that, given the reality of aging, accidents, and the unexpected, the rest of us are only temporarily able-bodied!"
"Not until a family member was required to be in a wheelchair did I realize what a challenge it would be to go anywhere. Spend one day loading and unloading the chair from your vehicle. Push it down the sidewalks and cross streets. Struggle to get through store doorways that aren't automatic. Definitely need to make ACE accessible to everyone, whatever it takes."
"I have friends who need ADA accessibility. My interaction with them makes me more aware of what they face; frustrations and quality of life issues. Their worlds are so much more limited, as the lack of accessibility shuts them out of opportunities that the rest of us often take for granted. Yet in an instant, any one of us could be walking in their shoes -- that is, we could not be walking at all. Regardless of that, however, is the fact that we all have the same needs and desires to experience a rich and satisfying life, which is often realized through the arts. It's part of our humanity."
"I have a painful joint condition that makes navigating stairs difficult. I also understand that someday I might not be able to go up and down stairs at all. ADA accessibility should be an important part of any community building."
"In 2017, I broke both ankles. I was in a wheelchair for several months with no access to one of my favorite places. Now after surgery and healing I can once again access. However, I can only do so with help and great effort. ACE is one of the only cultural activities for older citizens. The other being Loso Hall at EOU which is fully ADA. I do realize that budgets are tight, needs are many. However, our growing senior segment activities need to be addressed."
Why Should You Help Give the Arts a Lift?
The arts bring joy. They provide individuals with opportunities for discovery, self-expression, engagement, emotional health, and awareness of cultural diversity and heritage. The arts knit individuals into communities through empathy, communication, economic growth, and shared experience. However, small rural communities like ours often struggle to provide equitable access to these benefits due to economic disadvantage and remoteness from cultural centers.
Art Center East is our community’s strongest proponent of equitable access to the arts. Achieving full ADA accessibility would open our doors to a much larger segment of our community and everyone benefits from a wider reach. Please help us bring the opportunity to create, learn, celebrate, and discover through the arts to your friends, neighbors, and family members. No donation is too small, and every single dollar is as important as the next in this fundraising effort.
Where Will The Lift Go?
Plans are still in the works. At this point, our architect and structural engineer are assessing two possible sites. The first is possibility is where the library's former lift was located, next to the staircase (it was removed after ACE had it assessed by an elevator specialist). The second possibility is next to our 5th Street entrance. This will require removing the soil embankment along the east side of the building, punching a lift entrance into the upper floor’s Co-op Gallery wall, constructing a small addition to the 5th Street entrance in order to keep the lift entrance indoors, and retrofitting the nearby sidewalk and curb to be ADA compliant. Both plans are still in assessment. Once we have a plan, we will start the bidding process to determine a total cost for the project.
I would like to make a contribution, but not on this site.
No problem! We’ve set up a donation account at Community Bank. You can make a contribution by visiting a Community Bank branch and instructing the teller to deposit your donation into the “ACE ADA Access” account.