Weather Forecast


Fine arts center at ERHS put on hold

The curtain has dropped, at least for awhile, on a fine arts center that would be attached to the new East Ridge High School.

The delay was caused when fundraising being done by the Arts Connection organization fell short of the project's needed $2.5 million price tag. The group currently has $1.9 million raised.

Art Connection head Michelle Witte said the delay will not hinder their ability to open the arts center.

"It's going to happen, it's not an 'if,' it's just a 'when.' It just takes time," she said. "We just have to be patient, that is the key thing, you just have to keep going."

Witte said their next goal is to have the remaining $600,000 raised by 2010 and begin construction in the summer.

The proposed 10,000-square foot center would include a black-box theater, classroom space for arts and dance, a visual arts gallery and studio, and theater storage. The center will adjoin East Ridge's 900-seat theater.

The art center will be a benefit for the community because it will offer opportunities to expose students and their families to arts and hopefully move forward in making them as important as sports in the community, both Witte and East Ridge principal Aaron Harper said.

"The need is there, the community values the center and what they are trying to accomplish," Harper said. "I think it will enhance what we're really trying to establish with our vision of the arts and activities at East Ridge."

Harper said he has a little bit of disappointment in the fact that the center won't be able to open when the school does in the fall, but he is still very optimistic about the success of the project.

"It is disappointing in the way that it would really be a nice community benefit and it would just add to the ceremonious attitude of opening East Ridge," he said.

"From a very selfish standpoint it's some what of a blow because the ability to have the arts connection and the arts center really establish that from the get go would really continue the momentum of that vision. But with that being said, it would still be an obvious advantage to the community.

"It would still continue the momentum, it's just a matter of when," Harper said.

Wittle said over the next year they will continue to fundraise and put themselves out there more to better advertise their message and their vision.

"We're really working hard to get this done," she said. "The good news is we are having success, people realize the benefits and the value."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976