Claremont, NH – Melissa Richmond, Executive Director of the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts, announced to a crowd of supporters gathered for a concert on Sunday September 5th, that the organization has received a $100,000 challenge grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. The challenge was offered in support of “The Homecoming Campaign,” a $2.75M master plan to convert the long-empty 56 Opera House Square building into the Claremont Creative Center. The grant stipulates that new pledges, donations, grants, and tax credit sales in support of the Claremont Creative Center Project up to $200,000 will be matched 50%.

According to Richmond: “It is a significant milestone for this project to have the support of the Byrne Foundation. Mrs. Byrne has been a long-time friend of WCCMA and our programs, as well as of Claremont and the Upper Valley as a whole. We are thrilled by her faith and confidence, and hope our community helps us meet her challenge.”

Funds raised in the Homecoming Campaign will transform the historic Claremont National Bank Building located in the heart of Claremont into a nexus for arts education and performance, community gathering, and creative entrepreneurship to serve the businesses, artists, innovators, and students of the Upper Valley region. The project enjoys the partnership of the Claremont Development Authority and the City of Claremont. KCS Architects out of Keene New Hampshire are providing design services in consultation with Wavelength Consulting (lighting systems), Weller and Michal Architects (initial concept designs), DeGange Sound Solutions (audio systems), and WV Engineering.

The new facility will provide three floors of creative spaces. The ground floor has street front access to a lobby / gallery space with box office area and coat room leading to an intimate and flexible 100-seat performance and event space. A kitchen is designed to support events and incubate small businesses. The second floor contains an artists’ area with green room, dressing rooms, and recording equipment. The top floor is dedicated to education and community events with multiple rehearsal rooms, a library, work stations, an art studio, a gallery/conference space, and administrative offices. Energy efficiency, state of the art equipment, and historic preservation are keys to the design plan. The future Claremont Creative Center is adjacent to the Claremont Opera House and is slated to open Summer of 2022.

To date, the Homecoming Campaign has raised 40% of the total project cost. In addition to the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the project has the support of regional and national agencies and foundations including U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Grants, the Capital Regional Development Council, The Couch Family Foundation, Mascoma Bank Foundation, and the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire’s Our Kids Commission. In 2019, New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority approved $400,000 in tax credit funds to the Homecoming Campaign and in 2020 $500,000 in CDBG funds to the City/Claremont Development Authority towards building renovation. As of September 11, $330,000 have been sold to the following businesses: AB Gile Insurance / The Rowley Agency, Bar Harbor Bank. BioXCell, Casella Waste, Century 21 Highview Realty, Chinburg Properties, Claremont Financial Services, Clearwater Performance Group, Crown Point Cabinetry, LaValley Building Supply, Mascoma Bank, Novo Nordisk, and Sugar River Bank. $70,000 in credits remain; any future tax credit sales or other up to $200,000 in donations will go to the Byrne match.

Advisory Board member Erika Konkel stated, “We are deeply grateful to the Byrne family and all those who have supported us in this effort so far. Our community’s faith and confidence is humbling and gratifying. All together, we can make this incredible dream a reality for Claremont and the Upper Valley.”

Founded in 2008, the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts (WCCMA) brings professional music and arts experiences, diverse musicians, and equitable educational opportunity to Claremont NH and the broader Upper Valley region. More than 50 world-class concerts, educational activities, and events are held annually for an attendance of 3,000 people per year. WCCMA is committed to offering all programs for free or low cost, with scholarships available. Our role is to bring great community to our art and great art to our community. To learn more about programs visit wcc-ma.org; learn about the Homecoming Campaign at claremontcreativecenter.org.

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