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House of Art in Peril!

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In an action taken at their most recent meeting, the Select Board of the town of Monson voted for a two-part proposal made to them by the Fire Department, to 1) evict the Monson Arts Council from the building to allow it to be temporarily occupied by the fire department during its building renovations, and 2) once they no longer needed it as temporary quarters, to demolish the bu8ilding to make room for a wider access road to the fire station. These actions were taken without any notification to the Monson Arts Council that the proposal was to be considered by the board, and no notification after the fact of the decision taken. The discussion at the meeting gave only the briefest mention of the MAC and its current occupation of the building. We were dismissed with the comment that “nothing much happens in the building” and a vague reference to rehousing the MAC in another location.

This action is a huge blow to the MAC, and thus to the whole town. The council has occupied the building for over 25 years, during which time we have provided vital cultural activities for the town and surrounding area. These activities include the annual craft fair on Thanksgiving weekend, a major town tradition for over 40 years, and a Spring art show which has gained regional renown. Other activites include an art camp for children, and workshops such as the Plein Air workshop now in progress. The loss of the House of Art would cripple the work of this all-volunteer organization a impoverish the cultural life of the town.

The action of the Select Board will be up for review at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday evening, September 26 at seven pm. The Arts Council will be able to present its case to the Select Board and hopefully to get its previous actions reversed. All those who support the work of the council and its continued operation are urged to attend the meeting and make your voice heard.


8 responses to “House of Art in Peril!”

  1. Maurita Eaton says:

    Will make every attempt to be there!

  2. This is a disgusting example of authoritarian overreach. I value all public servants, but art, music, and theater are what make Monson a standout community and give it its magic.

  3. The House of Art and its positive impact on the area is obviously not fully understood by many. The fire department and the House of Art should work together. There is room for improvement to fire access and House of Art renovation.

  4. Carolyn and Bob Horacek says:

    I understand the need for temporary use of the House of Art as Fire Department headquarters during renovations. The thing I don’t under is why demolish a perfectly good building just to make the driveway wider.

    We, the residents of Monson, very generously voted to build a new fire station at the town meeting. Never once was it mentioned that the House of Art was in danger. What a slap in the face to all of us who dutifully showed up at the town meeting to show our support to a vital town necessity.

    Please, Selectboard members, seriously consider your actions. Monson is such a very special place in which to live. We do not live on public safety alone. We need the arts, too.

    I am positive the vote would not have gone the way it did if the loss of this building was going to be part of the deal.

    And once a building is gone, it’s gone forever. It would be financially impossible to rebuild again. Is this building historic? Has the Historical Commission been advised if this? And what would this space look like on Main Street? Empty, with an ugly wide driveway.

    At the very least, this should be put up to a vote by the residents of Monson after time enough to study the proposal and inform everyone.

  5. Jennifer Parker says:

    Watching the video recording of the meeting saddened me; the dismissiveness towards MAC was not right. The House of Art represents a lot to the Monson community. Its where my daughter had her first art show in elementary school. She is currently a proud MAC board member at age 17, which has provided a wonderful leadership learning experience. MAC has also supported the Monson PTSA Reflections Art program for young artists by serving as judges. Due to MAC’s support, four Monson students received recognition at the State level in 2023 and one was recognized at the National level with a merit award. MAC offers our community so much! I will be at the meeting!

  6. The House of Art is a unique icon that draws many to the Town of Monson for its rich cultural activities. I have elected to exhibit in the Town of Monson for many years despite a 90 minute commute to do so – simply because of its focus on cultural arts. Local and internationally famous artists have exhibited here such as the brilliant, late Dean Nimmer. The town’s craft fair is a long standing tradition for families on Thanksgiving weekend from all over New England. It shameful to dismiss the importance of arts and culture and insulting to have done so abruptly. There must be a way to work to improve access for the Fire Department and save the House of Art!

  7. Sharon Johnson says:

    As a member of the Monson Arts Council I was greatly saddened by this decision. I’m also very appreciative of our town’s first responders. Can the town help to investigate possible alternatives prior to following through with this project. Perhaps there is another solution.
    The community mustered a monumental response to the tornado and this spirit/support is one of the reasons my wife and I decided to stay in Monson and rebuild our lives/business here. Small businesses and farms are essential to our town, but cultural venues and the Arts are important as well. It is the “whole package” that draws visitors to our local area.
    Please, let’s all step back and take another look at this issue and see what other options may present themselves. I encourage everyone to show up on Tuesday evening to provide input and support.

  8. Carol Dunn says:

    What a great loss this would be to the town of Monson. I have been exhibiting at the House of Art for several years, despite an hour’s drive to get there. It’s a great group of volunteers. More and more galleries have been closing due to Covid and the poor economy, please don’t close another opportunity for artists to gather and share their work!

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