Timeline of the Creation of the Oxford Community Arts Center

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The following is a summary of the progression of events and financial decisions as recorded in the OxACT meeting minutes and treasurer’s reports from August, 1997 to March, 1999, in regards to the creation and funding of the Oxford Community Arts Center project in the Oxford College building.

During this time, Rebecca Howard was President of the board, Bob Campbell was the Treasurer, and other board members at various times included *Biz Campbell, *Ginger Scott-Johnson, Erv Johnson, John McGrew, *Chuck Leonard, Betsey Knight, Maureen Nimis, Christine Brunner, Janet Holmes, Anne Settevendemie Ritz, John Meaux, Mike McVey, Becca Shawver, Mary Lou Plank, Cathy McVey, and Doug Hoover (those names marked with an * were on the board through this entire period).

Note that the discussions of an arts center had been active at board meetings for several years prior to this, but this period marks the beginning of specific planning and fundraising to locate the center in Oxford College.

August 20, 1997:

This meeting is the first recorded mention of the letter that Bob Campbell had sent to the City of Oxford “regarding OxACT’s interest in having a part in the possible, upcoming space renovations of Oxford College and the related creation of a theater space.”  At this point, the city was in negotiations with Miami University to acquire the building for possible use as an annex to the city building.

It was also at this meeting that plans were finalized for Bob Campbell to contact OxACT attorney Jim Robinson to draft a document to include OxACT in the Oxford Community Foundation, as a prelude to fundraising for the arts center.

February 24, 1998:

This was the meeting in which the most significant progress toward the project was recorded. The minutes record the following report from the Executive Committee:

“A letter was received from the Oxford Public Arts Council regarding OxACT’s interest in being a part of a Community Arts Coalition. This group would concentrate on applying for a grant for an Arts Needs Assessment. OxACT will contact the group and follow up.
Bob Campbell and Becky Howard took a walking tour through the Oxford College Building and have discovered several interesting items about the space which we are hoping to inherit. There is a load-bearing wall which goes down the center of the stage area, the ceiling is too low, there is an echo problem, and there is a jagged wall on the stage. Bob Campbell has been in contact with the firm who designed Parrish Auditorium on the MUH campus, as well as the auditorium at the Fitton Center for the Arts in Hamilton.
With their estimation of the cost to recreate this space into a theatre, Bob has drafted a Grant Proposal to be sent to the Molyneaux Foundation. This proposal requests the funds to have this firm complete a feasibility study regarding the space. If the space is found to be feasible for a theatre space and related studio space in the basement the firm would also complete some drawings of the new space to be included in the study.”

Included with these minutes were two documents: the Proposal for Services from Steed-Hammond-Paul architects for the feasibility study, noting that the total of charges would not exceed $3,400.00; and the Request for Funding submitted to the Molyneaux Foundation, with a total request of $4,400.00, which included $3,200 for the architectural fees and $1,200 in consulting fees to Geoff Fishburn for technical assistance. The Molyneaux document is especially interesting in that it clearly articulates a cogent summary of the reasons OxACT was compelled to pursue the Arts Center project. Of particular interest is the following excerpt explaining the vision OxACT had for the space:

“While OxACT would retain priority in scheduling, the vision is that this space would truly become a community space for the arts and a calendar of events could span the entire year. This space could become an important part of the identity of this city, given the location of this historic building and the community’s need for its own performance space. The OxACT board envisions a part-time executive director of the space to coordinate scheduling, publicity, and other activities.”

August 23, 1998:

A year after the first formal Arts Center discussion meeting, the minutes from the board’s annual retreat and business meeting showed significant progress. The architectural study had been completed, and plans were made to host a community “fund-raiser kick-off” event. The business meeting minutes note that:

“Bob created an ‘Oxford Community Arts Center’ Prospectus. (Note: this appears to be the first official mention of the OCAC name.) It has been determined that the price of renovating the Oxford College Building to our specifications would be $3 million . . . It was agreed that $1,000 from OxACT savings could be allocated to print brochures, mail 50 of them to selected parties, and to have wine and hors d’oeuvres at the meeting. Important parties to attend: OxACT, the architect, a representative from the OCF . . . “

The Treasurer’s Report from this meeting shows a payment of $1,607.50 to Steed-Hammond-Paul for the first step in the feasibility study. In the notes from the retreat, there are lists that members generated reflecting what had been accomplished and what was envisioned for the future. References to the Arts Center project include:

“1) What has OxACT accomplished during the past year? . . . Made steps toward a new home for OxACT”; “2) What should we concentrate on for next year? . . . Building, Building, Building!!! . . . Storage and construction space . . . New Facility Fund—accept small amounts”; and “3) What should we concentrate on in the next 10 years? . . . New Building/Facility . . . OxACT the core of an Arts Center.”

September 22, 1998:

The Executive Committee reported a postponement of the “Oxford Arts Center Reception” from October to November 15, noting that:

“The reason for postponing the meeting is that we anticipate hearing some information on the Oxford College Building from the City of Oxford soon, but not before the original date of the reception. The drawings made by our architect have been turned over to Ed Demske at MU, and he has shared them with the MU architect. Bob and Becky will be attending a meeting with the City Manager, Mayor, and MU President.”

The Treasurer’s Report from this meeting notes a $75.00 deposit paid to Michael’s Elegant Gatherings for the reception, and another check to Steed-Hammond-Paul for $1,785.00.

December 15, 1998:

The Treasurer’s Report from this meeting includes the final payment to Michael’s Elegant Gatherings for the reception in the amount of $650.25. March 15, 1999: This Treasurer’s Report shows a final payment to Steed-Hammond-Paul of $87.62. It is gratifying to be reminded that the OxACT vision from 1998 for a “New Building/Facility” has come to fruition, fully embracing the belief that

“this space would truly become a community space for the arts and a calendar of events could span the entire year. This space could become an important part of the identity of this city, given the location of this historic building and the community’s need for its own performance space.”

It is clear that the Oxford Community Arts Center represents the culmination of the commitment and dedication of the OxACT board of directors to establish a community theater/arts space, and that, even though the theater space itself has not been completed, the facility as a whole has met and exceeded our hopes and plans of the previous 10 years. It has been an effort supported by all of the board members of the last ten years, though the project would not have come this far if not for the dedication and energy of Bob Campbell, whose commitment to the project proved invaluable.