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Arcadia Project (Staunton Performing Arts Center)

Mission: The Staunton Performing Arts Center is currently in the process of transitioning into a new non-profit organization called the Arcadia Project.  Working elements of their mission are to create an innovative education and entertainment venue.  They plan to use film, technology, food, and music to inspire change, bridge generations, and foster dialogue; empower youth, particularly in underserved populations, to build and transform community by growing the next generation of creators, thinkers and change makers.

Community Need: In 2017, Arcadia Project conducted a survey that identified unmet cultural needs in the Staunton and Waynesboro area along with underserved communities.  Millennials (age 20-39) represent the largest group (28,378) of the total population (120,515) of Staunton and Waynesboro. Senior citizens (age 65 & older) represent the second largest group (24,610).  Millennials in particular mention a lack of compelling offerings that make them want to remain in or relocate to the area. Opportunities to learn digital skills, critical in the new economy, are few.  Members of diverse ethnicities mention a desire for varied, multicultural offerings that welcome and support dialogue and inclusion. Senior citizens and retirees mentioned a desire to pass along skills and knowledge and a lack of opportunities to do so.

Constituents Served: Initially, the Arcadia Project will market their educational services to the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

Primary Activities: The Primary Activities for the Arcadia Project include:

  • Education: Offer a variety of workshops and boot camps for learners of all ages such as: how to design a website; video editing; documentary making; how to use photo shop; song writing; canning and pickling; craft cocktail classes; and composting.
  • Events: Carry out annual events such as a farm and flea festival; music events; and a film and a ball room dance club. They are also looking into the possibility of hosting a winter farmer’s market and a climbing wall club.
  • Hosting: Provide space for four local cultural entities: The Kettle; Community Studio; Threads of History Film Archive; and the Foundation for Holocaust Education Projects.
  • Rentals: Offer a wedding venue for events of up to 400 people. This is the only facility in the Shenandoah Valley able to accommodate such a large, all-season indoor sit down dinner, ceremony, and cocktail reception in one space. Additionally, they will rent the 2nd floor space on an as needed basis to various cultural partners.

In 2018, the Arcadia Project plans to further develop the viability of their proposed new use of the two buildings as important cultural destinations.  They’ve chosen to focus on the lobby of the Dixie Theatre first, as it is the smallest and most achievable goal toward bringing these two dead buildings back in service to the community. This requires the addition of an ADA bathroom, some plumbing repair, cosmetic renovations, environmental remediation, and HVAC work.

Amount Requested: $10,000

Operating Budget: $83,723

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