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Location right for artists, musicians

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Last October, composer-music teacher Sarah Hall and a couple of artistic colleagues talked about sharing studio space for teaching.
Some other creative types heard about their plans and asked to be included, and the small group found a downtown space it liked.
But code issues involving stairs and the size of bathrooms loomed quickly as issues.
“It was becoming a hassle, so we decided to look somewhere else,” Hall said.
Meanwhile, Hall had begun talking to several people involved in community theater about the need for another performing venue. The search for space now had to accommodate small-scale theater productions, too.
Hall eventually approached John Ketner of Rowan Investment Co., because she was familiar with Glenn and John Ketner’s efforts at possibly transforming old warehouses along Lee Street into a “Railwalk” district, with a focus on artists.
“They were more than happy to talk to us since our plans fit in well with theirs,” Hall said.
Things came together quickly, and the Ketners will be renovating spaces at 405 and 407 N. Lee St. for the “Looking Glass Artist Collective.”
More than 30 people have joined the collective so far, including visual artists, musicians, writers, actors, dancers and others.
“We have a very broad definition of art ó any creative pursuit is welcome,” Hall said. Some people who have joined say they aren’t artists “but just want to hang around with creative people,” she added.
Hall serves as the Looking Glass president and also as president of the corporation.
“We wanted it to be just kind of a loose association and very free,” Hall said, “but insurance companies and banks don’t like it when things are loose and free, so we got ourselves incorporated.”
Looking Glass Artist Collective will be generating various events and providing a place for lessons, camps and the sale of members’ creations.
“One of our members suggested ‘Looking Glass,’ and it stuck,” Hall said. “… We decided ‘Looking Glass’ is very appropriate for an artist collective, since artists see themselves in what they create and because, in a collective situation, whatever you do reflects on everyone else.”
Looking Glass hopes to start renting the space at 405 N. Lee St. (now the home of a church) by July 1 and add the space at 407 N. Lee St. by Sept. 1. Hall said the spaces will provide classrooms; a black box theater, which will double as an art gallery; a music teaching studio; and a retail area to sell members’ art, crafts, books, CDs and DVDs.
The facilities also will be available for event rental.
The collective, founded officially in March, is governed by a 12-member board, and there is no paid staff.
Hall said a few members, such as the art curator, retail manager and building manager, will make some income through commissions.
Each member is required to buy a share of stock in the collective for $10, entitling him or her to vote in the election of board members.
Two levels of membership exist. Working members pay $10 a month and are required to devote eight hours monthly to running the organization.
Members also can pay $30 a month, without having to work.
Hall said the benefits to membership will include use of the buildings for teaching, rehearsal, performance and events; the opportunities to sell things in the collective’s store and through exhibits; publicity through the collective’s advertising; and opportunities for collaboration with other artists.
Members also are listed on the Looking Glass Web site (www.salisburyartists.org), with links to their own personal Web sites or a page of information about each artist.
Looking Glass Artist Collective will be joining Rail Walk Studios and Gallery and Cascade Sculpture, which already are on the same block of North Lee Street. All will eventually have additional entrances (handicapped accessible) off the Railwalk.
For more information on Looking Glass Artist Collective, contact Sarah F. Hall at sfhall@carolina.rr.com, or 704-637-7326.

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