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South Coast Arts Center On Track For Major Expansion With Purchase Of Shuttered Restaurant

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(Carpinteria Arts Center image)
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Artist's drawing of planned expansion of Carpinteria Arts Center

Two years ago, schoolteacher Janie Cohen of Carpinteria retired.

She thought it would be a perfect time to take up something she’d always wanted to do, but never had time for in the past. She turned to the tiny, 700 square foot Carpinteria Arts Center in downtown Carpinteria for help.  Cohen followed through with her dream of becoming a painter, perfecting her skills through the center's program, and going on to exhibit and even sell some of her works.

The 15 year old center is small, but that hasn’t stopped it from offering everything from painting to dance classes, and much more.  Now, it's set for a major expansion.

David Powdrell, who is co-chair of the Carpinteria Arts Center, says this is a big year for the non-profit. It reached a major deal to more than triple the center’s space from its existing home, a tiny little building on the 800 block of Linden Street. Powdrell says they launched an ambitious $3.1 million dollar capital campaign to buy the shuttered restaurant, refurbish it as an arts space, and to have an endowment. They’ve raised more than two million dollars. The hope is to get final government approvals for the renovations on the next few weeks, with work starting this summer, and the renovation complete around the end of the year.

But, the arts center hasn’t used its current lack of space as an excuse for limited programs. It’s constantly busy. Artist Janie Cohen, who’s now involved in a number of programs at the arts center, says it’s become more than an educational facility. She says it’s a community gather place, almost like a community center.

It operates on a $240,000 annual budget, with most of the money coming from the community in the form of memberships, donations, art sales and class fees. Boosters say they’re in the home stretch of their fundraising efforts, and think getting the final $900,000 plus dollars is within reach.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.