Arts/West Opens New Music Program

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Fiddles, banjos, violins, ukuleles, and many other instruments are filling Arts/West’s and Stuarts Opera House.

These instruments, specific to Appalachian culture, are part of Southeast Ohio’s Musical Lending Library. 

The library offers everything from classic rock instruments to traditional Appalachian string instruments. People of all levels of musical ability are able to rent the instruments for free.

Tessa Evanosky, events coordinator at Arts/West, says the library was established because it will provide many benefits to the Southeast Ohio community.

“Playing an instrument really improves memory and coordination, self-esteem, helps with bullying,” Evanosky said.  “All these things that are total problems especially in more impoverished regions like Appalachia. For older folks too it’s so good for muscle memory and it even helps with arthritis. The benefits of playing a musical instrument are totally endless.”

Programs will be provided on how to play a new instrument, perform basic set up and repair, and how to improve playing technique. Arts/West and Stuarts opera house are looking for partners in other towns to participate in the lending library. They are also accepting donations of acoustic instruments in working order.

This video clip shows some of the instruments available at the lending library

Arts/West will be having the official grand reopening of its basement in December. The new basement will not only hold all the instruments for the library but it will also be used for lesson rooms. Emily Beveridge, Event Specialist at Arts/West said the basement has better space for one-on-one lessons due to the new flooring.

South East Ohio Musical Lending Library is open this month

“We have acoustic tile across pretty much the entire basement now which helps a lot with isolating sound does stairs if we have something going on upstairs,” Beveridge said. ” Because of the knocking out of wall we now have more lighting bouncing around the facility and that just brightens it up so much. It just unifies the space and makes it really clean.”

Beveridge said she hopes to create more programs, like the Musical Lending Library, that provide members with the supplies or resources they need to explore their artistic aspirations.

I’m definitely interested in potentially creating an arts supply exchange, a book exchange, possibly doing an instrument sale if we have overage from the library,” Beveridge said.  “There’s just a lot of things that could happen, I’m excited.”

Arts/West was established in 2005 with the help from the Ohio Arts Council.  This is the largest construction project the art facility has undergone since it was transformed from a church.  Beveridge said Arts/West has been able to fill the arts gap Athens was missing prior to its opening, but that it has helped maintain and strengthen the unique culture in Athens.

“It is a welcoming environment for people to essentially gather and bond over shared interests,” Beveridge said. ” I hope that we continue to inspire people and allow them to do what they enjoy to do.”

Arts/West was first established in 2005. This basement renovation is the biggest construction project for this art center since it was transformed from a church building 13 years ago.