Key Building Revitalization

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Arts, music, and culture is ingrained in Sparta’s identity as a community. It is home to many groups that support and reflect the local talent and traditions of the High Country region in North Carolina. An overwhelming desire for a communal creative space was largely expressed by the community in order to share unique experiences with residents and visitors alike. 


Create a Creative Center

This Creative Center can serve as a home to the multiple groups in Sparta, Alleghany County, and the Northwest North Carolina region that connect to arts, music, and culture. The center can:

  • Serve as an additional event or meeting space for various groups, as well as
  • Provide the opportunity to create new and engaging events within the arts community (e.g. exhibition event, arts classes, performances, etc.)

This space is intended to allow Sparta to enhance these opportunities for current and future residents and visitors who want to learn more about this unique aspect of Sparta’s identity. 

Phase I: Planning Out the Vision

Collaboration is key when creating a cultural space that will meet the needs of multiple groups within a community. It’s important to include strategic partners that can not only support development of this project but help maintain sustainability for years to come. 

STEP 1: Form Action Committee to lead this initiative

Groups that are interested in participating in the development of the Creative Center should designate representatives to become a part of the Action Committee. Atlas recommends that this committee will be led by the Alleghany Arts Council, a leading organization in the region that can bring together the necessary groups to lead this project. 

STEP 2: Determine future location of Creative Center

Atlas recommends that the Creative Center be located in an already existing building, specifically located in or near downtown Sparta. During Atlas’ site visits, the elementary school auditorium  was identified as a site that could serve as a potential home to the Creative Center. This location was brought up during discussions and seen as a good fit for the Creative Center due to its proximity to the downtown area, existing auditorium hall, and adjacent classroom space. After touring the space, Atlas recommends that minimal renovations would be needed to use the space as a Creative Center. The Action Committee would need to work collaboratively with school officials and the school district to develop a plan that would incorporate necessary safety measures, additional access doors, and any agreements that might need to be secured. 

Phase II: Developing a Funding Model

The Creative Center must build out a strong funding model in order to lay the foundation for continual success. Fortunately, many other communities have developed their own versions of Creative Centers and various models can be explored in order to sustainably grow. 

STEP 1: Determine capital costs and operational budget

After a building space has been identified, it’s time to look at building out a budget and determine true capital costs associated with potentially purchasing a building and making the necessary renovations and upgrades as well as the expected operational budget. 

Capital Costs

The total amount should include cost for construction and equipment per square foot. This information can be provided through local architects and engineers’ assessments to determine actual cost of construction. 

Operational Budget

The Action Committee should build out an anticipated operational budget that includes cost and revenue for all potential classes, events, and programming held in the space.

STEP 2: Develop fundraising strategy

Once the Action Committee knows the true capital costs for the Creative Center, it’s time to build out a fundraising strategy. Atlas recommends tapping into a number of resources in order to support this initiative: 

Identify key stakeholders in the community that could contribute to this campaign e.g. large local employers, affluent individuals/families, small businesses, etc.

Partnership with a local non-profit organization will most likely be necessary to apply for private funding for this project. Atlas recommends partnering with the Alleghany Arts Council to collaborate on grant applications. See the Resource Roadmap section for recommended grants to pursue.

Phase III: Launch the Creative Center

Now it’s time to share exciting news with the community! 

STEP 1: Begin marketing campaign

After the location and funding model have been established, it’s time to launch the campaign! This will include creating marketing and promotional materials to raise awareness and periodic events to keep public engagement. A public tour of the building to share the vision of what it will be turned into can also help engage the community in seeing what the Action Committee and other key stakeholders wish to accomplish. 

STEP 2: Start renovations

Begin construction as soon as enough funding has been secured through the Capital Campaign and/or grant awards. Social media will be key here to share the progress with the community. This will help continue momentum and excitement for the project to be completed. 

STEP 3: Grand opening!

The final step will include the grand opening of the Creative Center! This should be a large community event to showcase the work that has been completed and how this new space will offer Sparta new opportunities to connect with the arts, culture, and music communities.

Resource Roadmap

Atlas recommends that Sparta pursue one or multiple of these opportunities, but know that these additional resources should complement the progress of the Capital Campaign occurring simultaneously. 

The North Carolina Department of Commerce offers Building Reuse Funds for renovating and revitalizing old and/or vacant buildings to be put back into productive use. This program could provide funding that could renovate and/or make the necessary modifications in the identified building to meet the needs of the newly developed Creative Center.

The Creative Center concept would be considered a community support service and could qualify for funding through the USDA Community Facilities Grant. This grant supports the purchasing, construction, and/or improvement of community facilities. This opportunity would be another option to fund the necessary renovations needed to construct the Creative Center.

Here are three identified private funding opportunities that could support the Creative Center project.