While renovations at the McKinney Cultural Arts Center at Booker T. Washington School are expected to continue at least through early summer, the center will open as scheduled May 24 with the return of the locally renowned Jonesborough Open Juried Art Show.
“The auditorium will be ready to the point that the exhibitors can be in there,” Bridgette Ward, the center’s newly hired director, said Tuesday. “And the staff will be there to lead the public on tours of the show and the new center.
“We’re very excited. I was over there this morning and it looks fantastic,” Ward said.
A crew from Gouge Masonry has been working on the center’s front entrances and walkway for about a week and were making good progress Tuesday despite a swath of threatening storm clouds on the horizon.
“The rain has been a problem. And it may be a problem again this afternoon,” mason Jim Gouge said.
Elsewhere around the center, a crew of skilled workers from the Carter County Work Camp was painting the interior trim, tiling a wall in the reception area where two water fountains will be installed, finishing the projection room above the auditorium and caulking exterior window frames on the east side of the building.
Looking forward to the opening, Jonesborough Operations Manager Craig Ford said, “Obviously, we’re not going to be completely done. We’ve got one entire room we still have to do. But I think we will have the majority of it finished for them to have some functions.”
The CCWC crew is assigned to the center four days each week and Ford is scheduling work that must be completed by contractors on the crew’s off day. By the end of today, he said, the final plumbing drains will be tied in, the water coolers and restroom partitions will be in place and carpet will be down on the ramp leading from the reception area to the auditorium.
At this point, the biggest issues are a delay in the delivery of seven exterior doors that Ford said were expected to arrive nearly two weeks ago and rain that has delayed grating work still needed for the concrete pads to be poured at the center’s entrances.
“We’ve just had to work around that,” Ford said. “But we’ll definitely have it to the point (where) they can do the art show. And there may be a couple of things for us to finish up and work on.”
Ward said a full schedule of classes for the Mary B. Martin Arts Program that will be based at the center is in place and already under way at alternate locations around town, where they will continue until mid- to late summer when the center will be completely accessible to the public.
The programming includes children’s art classes already under way at a Jonesborough church, children’s drama classes to be held at the Jonesborough Repertory Theater and evening drama and pottery classes for adults that may be held at the center after the construction workers have left for the day.
The art show will run through June 14 and will kick off with an introductory lecture by Stephen Wicks of the Knoxville Museum of Art on how the 152 pieces of art to be featured were selected. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. May 24 at the International Storytelling Center and will be followed by tours of the show and the new center.
“We’re very excited about the Mary B. Martin Arts Program,” Ward said. “And we’re very pleased the public will get see to the art show and see the building they’ve been hearing about.”