By Katherine Greenland
The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint recently completed the purchase of the building at 110 Main St. After 10 years of occupying the nearly 12,000-square-foot building as rental tenants, the news of finally having a permanent home caused a roar of celebration.
“It’s amazing how many mountains have been moved in the last 60 days,” said MCS Board Chair Kathi Samuels. “This effort has been a significant one and our board has worked very hard. I could not be more proud.”
This news arrives as MCS prepares to celebrate its 10-year anniversary as a nonprofit organization dedicated to instructing and inspiring musical excellence. Founded in 2009, MCS started serving just a few families and has since grown to meet the needs of the broader community. Today, more than 300 students walk through the doors of MCS every week, serving well over 2,500 families per year, including new classes at Clark Fork Middle School and Clark Fork High School.
As if to say, “Happy Birthday” to MCS, the Pend Oreille Arts Council moved into the MCS building earlier this year. POAC is now headquartered on the ground floor.
Since 1978, POAC has built a track record of facilitating quality experiences in the arts through educational programs and presentations that benefit the people of North Idaho.
“With MCS and POAC, we have two greatly successful arts organizations in the same building,” said POAC Board President Carol Deaner. “MCS and POAC are collaborative partners, working together to make this town an arts town. Our board is excited. We are all excited.”
Sandpoint residents may remember the brick building at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street when it housed the fire station and Sandpoint City Hall. MCS has renovation plans to preserve the historic structure, including raising the twin fire doors to create an open-air gallery space and putting solar panels on the rooftop to create a zero carbon footprint.
“The open-air gallery will be designed to stand as a symbol of community accessibility and participation,’’ said MCS Executive Director Karin Wedemeyer. “Preserving this historic building for the purpose of the fine arts is an essential part of our mission, and MCS is actively realizing that importance in our community. We have been dreaming of finding our permanent home for a decade.”
MCS is an accredited school, and Wedemeyer envisions transforming the building into what she calls The Center for Arts and Culture.
“The complexities of music enhances our learning ability on many different levels,” she said. “The Center for Arts and Culture will host different organizations with their own identities, but the place itself will be a beacon of both performing and fine arts in Sandpoint. Everyone needs culture. The Center for Arts and Culture will be a place for everyone in the community to enjoy. Starting with the Conservatory and POAC, we are looking together, toward the future.”
Carol Deaner agreed with Wedemeyer.
“The Center for Arts and Culture is our opportunity to maintain Sandpoint’s identity while also growing arts accessibility within our community,” she said. “Renovation plans for the building will carefully preserve the historic nature of this iconic place while keeping accessibility in mind. Together, POAC and MCS are dreaming about the Center for Arts and Culture, and how to carry that legacy forward.”
To learn more about the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, visit its new permanent home at 110 Main St., or go to sandpointconservatory.org.
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