Updated Fri, Sep 6, 2013 9:07 am
ARTS/West unveiled its new look on Wednesday evening, including improved lighting for displaying of art, a refurbished wood floor, stage upgrades and new seating that will make the space more versatile.
According to Andrew Chiki, assistant director of Athens’ Department of Arts, Parks and Recreation, the city-owned arts facility received a $15,000 appropriation from Athens City Council to complete the renovations, which started a few weeks ago.
Chiki said the department tried to stretch the funds as far as they could by utilizing volunteers and Southeastern Probation Treatment Alternative (SEPTA) Correctional Facility inmates to complete the work.
Prior to the improvements, the seating area of ARTS/west was carpeted and had 22 pews for seating. The building had served as a church until the city purchased it in 2005 and converted it into a public performing arts space.
Some of the pews were donated for use in the Athens County Courthouse and many were donated to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on West Union Street, where they are available for purchase. Chiki said three of the pews remain in the basement of ARTS/west for seating.
The carpet was removed to reveal tile. Chiki said the tile was also removed and a hardwood floor was found beneath. The hardwood floor was refurbished and gives the space a more polished appearance.
Some city officials said the wood flooring had originally been installed in the former Ohio University Baker Center on East Union Street. That structure is currently being remodeled to become the university’s new Schoonover Center for Communication.
“We’re taking the old and making it new again,” Chiki said.
New cushioned chairs were purchased to replace the pews. Because the new chairs are moveable, Chiki said the space will be more versatile to include tables for dining events if requested.
New gallery panels on the wall allow for different kinds of artwork to be displayed. Chiki said the panels also serve as sound panels for the performance space. New LED track lighting was also installed to accent the artwork on the walls.
The first art exhibit in the newly renovated space is Jim Shirey’s nature photography. An opening for the exhibit will be held Friday from 6-9 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Shirey said Wednesday that he is impressed with the way the energy-saving LED lighting accentuated his photographs.
Chiki said a new art installation will be displayed every month in the space. ARTS/west’s stage also got an overhaul with new movable pipe and drapes.
According to Chiki, the main performance space at ARTS/west was closed during the last two weeks of August to allow for the renovations. He said programming and office hours were maintained on the lower level of ARTS/west during that time.
ARTS/west, located at 132 W. State St., serves as a community arts space and features programming, theater and music performances throughout the year.
For information about ARTS/west, call 592-4315 or visit www.artswest.blogspot.com