New art center for White Bear Lake

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“We are wanting to break ground this September for our new arts building,” said Suzi Hudson, executive director of the White Bear Center for the Arts.  “We need ninety per cent of our funds before we start this project.”  The White Bear Center Center for the Arts has raised $1,600,000 of the $2.5 million needed for the renovation of their acquired building at 4971 Long Avenue in White Bear. They purchased the building in December 2010, after looking  for four years.  “The extra time has given us a clearer vision of what we wanted,” said Hudson.

White Bear Center for the Arts, 2228 Fourth Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 (Telephone  651-407-0597)

Minneapolis-based architect Peter Kramer has designed the renovation of Long Avenue site.  When completed the 10,000 square foot building will have a gallery for exhibitions and performances, outdoor walking labyrinth, community atrium, library, sculpture and rain gardens, a brick wood-fired oven, a variety of studio spaces for children, multi-use, clay and metal arts.  The campus of the building has an acre and half of pine trees and access to walking paths into a five acre protected wetlands.  “We want this space to truly to be a center for the community, but based in the arts,” said Hudson

Now in their fifth decade, WBCA was originally founded in 1968 by a small group of area residents who shared a passion for the arts.  “We now offer 500 classes a year on and off site,” said Hudson, who noted that registrations for classes have tripled in the past eight years. “In 2011, WBCA served over 31,000 individuals (reaching over 5,000 children and youth) and offered over 500 art education classes, with an annual operating budget of $365,000.

The original WBCA  building, called The Armory, at 2228 Fourth Street in White Bear is outdated.  “We can’t offer the quality conditions, needed control of our space, storage for instructors,” said Hudson.  “Nor the variety of classes or accessibility that we want to offer.”

WBCA offers classes for both children and adults.  Classes are in visual and literary arts, movement, culinary arts, professional development and public education lectures.

Their present exhibition is the 39th Annual Northern Lights juried art exhibition that is showing from April 15 to May 11 at Century College.