Staunton’s Arcadia project receives $25K study grant

Arcadia ProjectA new non-profit organization, Arcadia Project, has been awarded a Virginia Main Street Feasibility Study Grant in the amount of $25,000.

Funded by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and administered by the Staunton Downtown Development Association, the money will pay for: a market study conducted by the Richmond firm Summit Design & Engineering Services; a structural engineering report by the local firm Schnitzhofer and Associates; architectural services by local architect Marc Paxton; and research about the viability of an Industrial Revitalization Fund application to be conducted by Michael Barnes, of Charlottesville.

Volunteers have logged hundreds of hours cleaning the lobbies of the two buildings, installing window displays, maintaining social media accounts, building a customer relations management database, writing grant proposals and other tasks required by a start-up non-profit. Also, local businesses have contributed $15,660 of in-kind donations for items including: logo design services donated by Queen City Creative; 3-D CAD renderings donated by Alex Rodriguez; business consulting services donated by Sara Levinson of the Small Business Development Center in Harrisonburg; website development partially donated by BizLab at JMU.

The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge has supported the project for several years providing fiscal sponsorship, temporary website hosting, and other non-profit consulting services, along with the Center for Non-Profit Excellence in Charlottesville.

Earlier this year, the Arcadia Project negotiated a settlement to a debt on the historic Dixie Theater, located at 125 E. Beverley Street, with Atlantic Union Bank, who held the note.  With $70,000 raised from 38 local donors, dubbed “the Freedom Circle,” the Arcadia Project closed the deal with the bank on July 1, 2019.

The group’s goals are to transform two adjacent historic buildings in Staunton’s downtown, and while honoring their pasts, broaden their uses as gathering places for ALL members of the community. Their mission: “To connect people through culture and creativity. Bring who you are.” They also aim to create opportunities for collaboration among a variety of audiences and creators and to grow the next generation of thinkers and change makers. The buildings will feature theaters, event spaces, media studios, classes, workshops and cultural programs.

The non-profit’s name carries significance: Arcadia is the historical name of one of the buildings located at 119 E. Beverley Street and was a Greek mythological landscape for creativity. It’s called a “Project” because the vision is constantly evolving and the work to create, building community and foster understanding never ends.

The founding board of directors includes a member of the city council, a local attorney and events manager, a non-profit executive director, a communications director, a movie theater owner, and a financial advisor. The executive director is a documentary filmmaker.


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