‘A labor of love:’ Kettering’s Rosewood Arts Centre renovation complete

KETTERING — After seven years of planning and two years of construction, the Rosewood Arts Centre’s multi-million dollar renovation is complete.

The finished product was officially presented to the public during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, during which visitors had the chance to explore the “reinvented” space.

“The city really supports the arts here in Kettering,” said Mary Beth O’Dell, director of the city’s parks, recreation and cultural arts. “(This project) differentiates us from any other community and really demonstrates the creativity and innovation that the city prides itself on.”

Kettering is funding around $5 million for renovation of the nearly 60-year-old building, O’Dell said Saturday, noting that the Kettering Parks Foundation has raised about $2 million in donations to go toward new furniture, fixtures, landscaping, equipment and renovation of the facility’s new theater.

The Rosewood building has served as an arts center since the mid ‘80s, prior to which it was an elementary school. Rosewood Elementary closed in 1983.

Shayna McConville, Rosewood manager, said the former school accommodated the arts center well throughout the years despite not being specifically designed to do so.

“Now, the renovation has allowed us to become more accessible to all people and more comfortable for everyone,” she said. “We were able to make some significant and even modest changes to the building based on our budget, which makes these spaces feel and act as they should for the type of program that’s in each of them.”

Rosewood serves more than 80,000 people annually in the Dayton area through a variety of visual and performing arts, according to the city.

The updated space now includes several studios for various arts, including painting, drawing, printmaking, dance, glazing, ceramics, metals and more. The new theater, which was repurposed from the building’s former gym/auditorium, now seats 150 and is ADA accessible, O’Dell highlighted.

Near the building’s entrance is a gallery space that features rotating artist exhibitions.

“Our gallery program has been consistently exhibiting the work of artists from the region, the state and nationally,” McConville said, noting the program’s competitive “blind jury” selection process. “We feature about eight solo exhibitions each year, along with three group exhibitions.”

The facility also hosts more than 400 classes each year on average, including a kids summer camp program offering experiences in the arts of theater, painting, music, and more.

Kettering Mayor Peggy Lehner spoke briefly during Saturday’s event about the role Rosewood has served in the community.

“Since 1985, the Rosewood Arts Centre has served as a beacon for artistic expression,” she said. “... If these walls could talk, they would express the pride of watching artists from all mediums learn and practice their skills.”

Former Mayor Don Patterson, who retired in 2021, also shared his thoughts, highlighting the continuous collaborative effort behind the renovation project.

“This project is a labor of love to enhance the amenities for artists and creative minds,” he said, noting feedback he’d received from residents through the years. “The resounding message is about how Rosewood made them feel. How fortunate we are to belong to a community that recognizes the positive impact the arts provide our residents and community.”

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