United Way Spotlight

United Way Spotlight An agency which receives funding from United Way of Vermillion will be featured in this spotlight each week. The United Way of Vermillion Board of Directors wants the people of Vermillion to know more about the agencies that receive United Way funding and the services which they provide to the Vermillion community.

This week's featured agency is the Vermillion Area Arts Council. The Vermillion Area Arts Council serves a community which is enhanced by the only College of Fine Arts in the state. While finding our niche has been at times challenging, this community has developed a colaborative spirit of supporting both The University of South Dakota and community professional artists and craftworkers by scheduling and offering a wide variety of arts experiences.

The mission statement of the Vermillion Area Arts Council (VAAC) is contained in Article II of its by-laws:

The purpose of this council is to initiate, assist, coordinate and promote activities and education related to the arts and humanities in the Vermillion area. It is our goal to enhance the quality of life by involving the arts pervasively in the life of the community.

The arts council was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization in 1973 and is governed by an 11-member community/University board of directors. The Council sponsors or collaborates with others to offer a year-long selection of arts and humanities events within the center and throughout the community. These activities include classes and workshops, visual art exhibitions and gallery walks, children's theatre productions, Sunday Kid's Art classes, poetry readings, and fundraising events (e.g., Chili Blues during Dakota Days weekend � this year's festivities celebrate the 10th Annual Chili Blues and begin at 5 p.m. at the Arts Center, 202 Washington Street � advance tickets on sale at The Coffee Shop Gallery and Nook 'n Cranny � and the annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration) plus other special events. The arts council also provides organizational and volunteer support for Vermillion's Summer Arts Festival.

Arts and humanities programming funds come from the South Dakota Arts Council, the South Dakota Humanities Council, membership fees and special event donations, the United Way, admissions, and co-sponsored efforts with the USD College of Fine Arts, Vermillion Public Schools, Shrine to Music Museum, and USD/community organizations.

The Arts Council maintains the Washington Street Arts Center, a multi-use community art facility which also serves as administrative headquarters for the arts council. Located at 202 Washington Street, the structure was built in 1906 as the new home for the St. Agnes Catholic Parish. In the late 1980s, a group of Vermillion citizens purchased the building for use as an area arts center. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The building offers a live performance space, kitchen, restrooms, and large classroom and storage areas. Operating funds for the center are provided by the Clay County Commission; Civic Council; private grants; capital improvement donations; fundraisers; rental fees from meetings, weddings, receptions, other special events; and, assistance from the City of Vermillion. Volunteers provide the work force for routine maintenance and upkeep, periodic painting and repairs, and small construction projects.

During the winter of 1998-99, a major volunteer effort was launched to replaster, repair, and paint the main areas within the building plus major work in the kitchen area. Last winter the major upstairs areas were completely finish-plastered, professionally painted, and new carpeting installed. Major emphasis for the upcoming year is exterior repair and tuckpointing. These and other projects will continue as support is received from grants, public, and private donations.

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