An Update from the OCCC

April 1, 2013

Dear Friends:

We are writing for two reasons: first, to thank you for your previous support of the Orange County Cultural Center (OCCC); without your generosity and commitment to building a cultural center in northern Orange County, we would not be where we are today. Second, we want to give you an exciting update on what the OCCC has been working on over the course of 2012 and early 2013, and to invite you to join us in our efforts to establish a cultural space in northern Orange County suitable for performance, education, and exhibition.

We realize that many of you are not aware of our work over the past year and a half since our matching campaign in the fall of 2011, and we want to make sure that you, our supporters, know that your donations and good will have been used to further our original proposal for the 2nd floor of Building A in the historic Whitted Building. We have been working quietly and steadily, and of necessity, behind the scenes, with the Orange County government and the Town of Hillsborough to form a partnership to provide a conveniently located facility, available for cultural events in central and northern Orange County, where such space is currently limited. As our mission states, the OCCC will be the locus for exciting events and programs that bring together the diverse members of our county, provide outreach to smaller communities, and draw visitors from beyond our boundaries. A revitalized Hillsborough, with its thriving downtown district, increasingly draws tourist dollars to the area. The OCCC will serve as a place of creative discovery, exploration and enlightenment that bridges both cultural and economic boundaries.

In late 2011, the existing Cultural Committee board decided to utilize some of the funds raised through a challenge grant from the Hillsborough Tourism Board to hire an executive director, with an eye towards establishing a foundation for the OCCC to move forward, given the numerous tasks involved in setting up a new nonprofit organization. Our first executive director, Elizabeth Waugh, was hired in February 2012, and we received our 501(c)3 nonprofit status in March. We have also accomplished many other tasks, including:

  • Meetings and visits to find interim space for the OCCC while we pursued the Whitted Building
  • Meeting  individually with members of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to discuss and push for the Whitted Building spac
  • Meetings with community leaders and administrators
  • Working with the Town of Hillsborough to secure an official Statement of Support for the OCCC
  • Convening  Grants Committee, Fundraising Committee, and Nominating Committee to improve the work of the OCCC board
  • Retaining a CPA to ensure compliance with 501(c)3 nonprofit status
  • Working with a trained facilitator to convene three board retreats
  • Consulting with facilitator for advice on business and operating models
  • Attending all Whitted-relevant BOCC meetings
  • Working closely with Jeff Thompson, County Assets Manager, on a space plan for Whitted
  • Consulting with architects and engineers on space and infrastructure issues and plans
  • Advocating with the Town of Hillsborough staff regarding parking issues
  • Developing “Summer Noir” film series in conjunction with The Depot
  • Developing and launching OCCC website and Facebook page
  • Co-hosting a Happy Hour with OrangePolitics at Hillsborough BBQ, attended by numerous elected officials
  • Convening neighborhood meeting to gather feedback on the OCCC’s plans for use of Whitted
  • Hosting Last Friday film for kids in collaboration with Yellow Dog Creative and the Masonic Lodge
  • Collaborating with the HHC/Burwell School on a raffle to benefit the OCCC, and helping with reception at A Christmas Carol!

We plan to work closely with representatives from  our partner organizations, including the Hillsborough Arts Council, the Historic Hillsborough Commission/Burwell School, the Orange County Historical Museum, the Orange Community Players, the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors’ Bureau, Orange County Schools, and the Orange County Arts Commission to survey artists, writers, educators, and performers about their needs for educational, studio, performance, and gallery space. We plan to partner with our member organizations to promote programs which they propose or sponsor. The OCCC hopes to manage all non-governmental uses of the Whitted Building. We will be more than a “scheduler”—the OCCC’s mission provides an overarching philosophy of building a diverse community and supporting outreach.

The OCCC recognizes that the Whitted proposal will have an impact on the immediate neighbors and we intend to monitor and minimize the impacts, with attention to neighborhood ambiance. We will continue to invite neighborhood input about how things are going through regularly scheduled meetings with the neighbors. We want the OCCC to enhance the surrounding community, and believe that ongoing communication with that community is essential to our success.

We hope that you have a fuller understanding of what the OCCC has accomplished over the past year and a half. We are optimistic that the Board of County Commissioners will vote this spring to share the Whitted Building space with us. We have hoped from the start for performance spaces, both large and small, in the Whitted Building, and we are now closer than ever to realizing this goal. We trust that, beginning in early 2014, the OCCC will be able to offer spaces for art, movement and music classes for children and adults; poetry readings, writing workshops and other literary events; cultural and historical exhibits; plays and dance performances; concerts; reunions, weddings, dances, and conferences. This is a dream long in the making, and we couldn’t have gotten here without your belief in our vision for a thriving cultural center in northern Orange County. Thank you again for your patience and your past support of our efforts.



Andrea Riley, Chair          Pat Revels, Vice-Chair          Callie Connor, Secretary           Margo Pinkerton, Treasurer


Elizabeth Waugh, Executive Director


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