Independent artist Lynn Wheeler throws a pot in the space she rents at the Rosewood Arts Center on Wednesday. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Kettering plans $3.5 million upgrade for Rosewood Arts Centre

Rosewood has been a part of the Miami Valley arts scene for nearly 34 years.

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Built as an elementary school in 1965 and named for its neighborhood, Rosewood was closed as a school in 1984 and opened as an arts center the following year. It currently serves more than 80,000 people annually through a variety of visual and performing arts.

About 50 percent of its patronage comes from outside of Kettering. Rosewood also sponsors the popular Art on the Commons annually at Lincoln Park Civic Commons and regularly displays works from regional and national artists in its gallery —both free to the public.

No significant structural or interior changes have occurred since 1985, officials said, and programs have been fitted into elementary classrooms with little building modification. Now, the city is looking to change that.

The work to repair the center will be done over five years, starting in 2020, as the city looks to put together a 5-year plan as part of its capital improvement budget for the upgrades, according to City Manager Mark Schwieterman.

“What we are doing at this point is working on a capital improvement plan that would include about $3.5 million to renovate the Arts Centre,” he explained. “Council won’t approve the budget until December of this year.”

Schwieterman said the funding would be used to re-purpose and renovate the building in lieu of new construction. Various mechanical and structural improvements will be made once a plan is finalized and approved by council.

A recent Woolpert study found the Arts Centre building itself is sound and can, with modifications, be used effectively for many years to come.

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“We are working towards getting all of the details ready to present to council,” Schwieterman said, regarding the project. “We anticipate the renovated building will include 25,000 square feet for the arts and 15,000 square feet for city storage space.”

Division Manager of Cultural Arts Shayna McConville said the Arts Centre is the only arts education program of its kind in the region, and one of only three in Ohio. Rosewood offers myriad classes from painting to ballet, from ceramics to printmaking, from sculpture to jewelry design, and from comic creation to children’s theatre.

“We are a really active arts center, and there are not a lot of centers like us that are part of a Parks and Recreation Department,” she said. “Upper Arlington has an arts division, and the City of Columbus also has a dedicated facility like Rosewood.’

McConville noted that the city’s effort to refurbish the facility will help keep the thriving arts program alive.

In a recent survey, nearly 90 percent of Kettering citizens said that Rosewood’s programs added value to the community.

“We have an active Children’s Theatre program and a gallery that features artists from all over the country,” McConville said. “We have people that come from Brookville and Cincinnati, all over, to participate in our programming. We have an Irish dance group that rents out studio space once a week.”

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