The Carnegie building on Broadway Avenue in Turlock was once the old library built in 1916, then became the City’s arts center in the 1980’s, and recently was going through a renovation while adding an elevator tower until an arsonist destroyed the building in 2005.
The Carnegie building was not insured for its full value for some reason and on April 16, 2010 the Turlock City Council approved awarding a $5.1 million reconstruction bid, using some Redeveloment Agency funding.
Years of debate had taken place, not only about the funding sources to be used to restore and add on to the historic building, but how the ongoing operation and maintenance would be funded. The Council decided the City would most likely not be able to afford the operation and maintenance costs and from that concern, an agreement with the non-profit Carnegie Arts Center Foundation was made stipulating that would be the organization’s responsibility.
Since before the 2005 fire that gutted the Carnegie building, leaving only the old brick outer shell to rebuild from and around, Carnegie Arts Center Foundation volunteers have been raising funds to rebuild the City facility.
Now the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation is working to raise funds to maintain, manage, and operate the City facility with community art programs and events.
The ground breaking for the project took place on May 21, 2010 and there was a walk through in the middle of December showing progress to the City Council, Carnegie Foundation Board Members, a few invited guests and the media.
Patricia O’Donnell, President of the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation, said “Things are moving along rapidly at the site.”
O’Donnell also announced that the Carnegie Foundation has a new temporary office in the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association’s (TDPOA) Business Incubator, located at 300 E. Main Street.
And the most recent news of progress from the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation, is that Rebecca Phillips Abbott has been named as its founding Executive Director and Curator.
Ms. Abbott was formerly the Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, serving in that position for eight years. In 1999, she joined the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center where she served as curatorial liaison to the Vatican Museums, working closely with the curatorial and restoration staffs in Rome. While serving as Interim Vice President for University Advancement at California State University, Stanislaus in 2007, she began working with members of the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation, helping to shape a vision for the Center that won the confidence of the Foundation and the City of Turlock.
“Ms. Abbott is an ideal candidate for this position,” said Carnegie Foundation President Patricia O’Donnell. “She is as knowledgeable in the arts as she is in nonprofit administration, marketing and financial management. At the same time, she appreciates the role an arts center can play in lifelong learning, and is committed to our community and to the ways in which the Carnegie Arts Center can enrich the lives of the people throughout the local area and the Central Valley as a whole.”
Ms. Abbott has a Master of Arts degree in the history of art. She has lectured extensively on women artists, the history of art, and photography. She is also a fine art photographer whose works can be found in public and private collections. Film and fashion are among her pastimes.
Grace Lieberman, Executive Director of the Stanislaus Arts Council, notes, “Rebecca Abbott will bring her vision, knowledge, experience and talent to the Carnegie Arts Center and to our region as a whole. Her style of leadership is essentially one of embracing Art for the benefit of all.”
Abbott said, “I am looking forward to leading the Carnegie Arts Center at this pivotal point in its history and to establishing it as one of the region’s premier visual arts centers. In the process, we will remain a vital part of the local community, sensitive to the Carnegie’s traditions, mindful of its potential, and committed to its future success.”
The Carnegie Arts Center reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2011.