Plans for a dramatic renovation of the New Hope Arts Center on Stockton Avenue in New Hope, PA, were unveiled last month, along with a $750,000-capital campaign called Elevate the Arts.
Before a small audience comprised of local media members and residents, architect Ralph Fey, a longtime New Hope Arts board member, flanked by large renderings of the new-look arts center, discussed the need for the changes.
“I’ve been working on the improvement of this building with the board for 18 years,” Fey said. “And this is a pretty proud moment for us to go from a little project to a little project to a significant project and a capital campaign that will elevate the building and elevate the arts.
“Our mission, which was established early on, continues to be a place for the arts and a place for the community and the arts to meet,” he said. “Where we can provide that environment and make it accessible is our next goal.”
Fey and his Doylestown-based firm, Ralph C. Fey Architects, designed the arts center’s renovations. According to The Bucks County Courier Times, the firm is currently pursuing the necessary approvals with New Hope Borough with the aim of starting construction in January. The work is expected to take about four months to complete.
The nonprofit New Hope Arts, Inc. was formed in 2002. Its stated purpose was, and remains, “showcasing the work of contemporary artists in the Lambertville-New Hope area and the Delaware Valley region.” Each year, the organization hosts several major exhibitions to that end. The artists and artisans featured in those shows are a mix of established and emerging names.
Founder Robin Larsen believed that opening a prominent arts center was central not only to the nonprofit’s mission but also to any hopes of re-establishing New Hope and Lambertville as national arts destination. She died in 2009, soon after New Hope Arts acquired the building, an early 19th-century stone structure that sits on the Delaware Canal, that houses the arts center. Originally a barn, the building has also operated as a foundry, theater, gas station, and fencing studio.
Fey said the organization will honor the building’s history, but the renovations are designed, foremost, to increase the building’s (and, in turn, New Hope Arts’) visibility, as well as its accessibility. The plans include a new, dramatic entrance with new signage, an updated lobby with an ADA restroom, an elevator, a larger, open staircase, a new rear entrance with an ADA ramp, and various improvements to the building’s exterior.
The elevator is being funded by a $116,000 Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development grant that was initiated by Pennsylvania Senator Steve Santarsiero. Separately, the first phase of the Elevate the Arts capital campaign was launched privately in January. According to The Courier Times, the nonprofit received $173,000 in pledges between then and last month’s public launch.
“For me personally, as a resident, as a business owner, this is a dream come true, not only for me as a resident, mayor, etc., but all of us, all this community,” New Hope Mayor Larry Keller said at the unveiling. Keller is also chairman of the New Hope Arts Board of Directors. “There’s a reason New Hope is thriving right now. New Hope Arts, I think, is a big part of that.”
If you’d like to donate to the Elevate the Arts capital campaign, you can do it here.