Update on the Orange County Cultural Center, July 2013

July 10, 2013

The Orange County Cultural Center was formed in 2008, following a community meeting in late 2007, hosted by the Town of Hillsborough and the Hillsborough Arts Council, which assessed Hillsborough’s arts and cultural resources, and determined that northern Orange County was in need of affordable, accessible space for arts and cultural programming.

A steering committee, originally called the Cultural Center Committee, began meeting monthly to discuss options for creating a free-standing cultural arts center in downtown Hillsborough. Representatives from the Orange Community Players, the Hillsborough Arts Council, the Historic Hillsborough Commission (the Burwell School), the Historical Foundation of Hillsborough and Orange County (the Orange County Historical Museum), the Chapel Hill Orange County Visitor’s Bureau, the Orange County Artist Guild, the Music Maker Relief Foundation, the Orange County Arts Commission, the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, and the Orange County School System were all part of the original group, and have continued to be involved in the OCCC for the past seven years.

Since those beginnings, the OCCC has been able to move beyond the steering committee to form its own 501c3 nonprofit organization with a fully functioning volunteer board; secure office space in downtown Hillsborough; obtain a Charitable Solicitation License; formulate a strategic business plan; secure a grant from the Hillsborough Tourism Board which allowed the OCCC to mount a “challenge campaign” and fundraise; collaborate with its partner organizations to put on arts-related programming; hire an Executive Director; and, most importantly, help to bring the Town of Hillsborough, Orange County, and the arts community together with a common goal of creating space in northern Orange County for performances; arts education and exhibitions; and historical, literary, dramatic and other cultural educational or enrichment endeavors.

When the Orange County Cultural Center first identified the historic Whitted Building as an ideal place for a cultural center, the Hillsborough Town Board and the Board of County Commissioners were having difficulty working together to find a path towards creating such a space. There were issues about parking, access, and who would be in charge of the space. The OCCC worked diligently to create a community conversation about the need for a cultural center, and through many meetings with Town and County officials, enabled them to move forward in partnership to begin to see the Whitted Building as the vital cultural resource that it could be.

The Orange County Cultural Center is very pleased that the Board of County Commissioners voted on May 7th, 2013, to support the Whitted Building as a potential space for nonprofit organizations, both arts-related and otherwise, to utilize when the building is not in use by County or Town governments. While the OCCC is disappointed that the BOCC did not support having a value-added entity in charge of overseeing nongovernmental uses in the Whitted Building, the OCCC still feels that it has accomplished its goal of bringing County and Town leaders together to recognize the need for space for the cultural arts in Hillsborough/northern Orange County. The OCCC truly hopes that the BOCC will follow through on its pledge to make the Whitted Building available for the arts community, as well as other nonprofits.

The Orange County Cultural Center is very grateful to those who have worked so hard on this dream and who have supported the OCCC in its efforts. While it has proven impossible for the OCCC to implement its original proposal to manage nongovernmental activities in the Whitted Building, the OCCC continues to be committed to supporting the arts throughout Orange County. Executive Director Elizabeth Waugh-Duford will be finishing out her contract at the end of July, but the Orange County Cultural Center will continue as an all-volunteer committee that hopes to support programming and provide outreach in partnership with other arts and cultural groups in Orange County. A primary focus will be looking for another space in northern Orange County that can accommodate a fully functional, free-standing cultural center.

The OCCC will be on hiatus during the summer. Please look for updates here and on our Facebook page.

 

The Orange County Cultural Center Steering Committee

Margo Pinkerton

Callie Connor

Pat Revels

Vicky Wilson

Elizabeth Waugh-Duford, Executive Director

 

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