On behalf of the Board of Directors for White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA) we are thrilled to announce that we have a recommendation from the City’s Planning Commission to approve development plans to expand the Art Center’s building, parking lot, and campus. This PUD will go before the City Council for consideration on July 14. If approved, we hope to break ground late this summer, or early fall.
We believe deeply in the vision and goals of a thriving Arts District in our community. WBCA’s strategic plan calls for the expansion of arts education and access thereto and this project will operate to achieve that goal for the community. We are especially grateful for the tremendous generosity and investment of local donors who have committed funding for this project and are investing in the cultural future of the community.
The plans include a 16,200 sq ft addition to WBCA’s current building. NewStudio Architecture, of St. Paul, has been retained as the lead architectural firm for this project. They began their business in White Bear Lake and have been a long time supporter of WBCA. Peter Kramer, the original architect of WBCA’s building, is also serving on our design team. Larson Engineering, Inc. in White Bear Lake, is providing the civil engineer work. We are in great and capable hands!
Phase one will include a new gallery, spacious reception atrium, administrative offices, and a ceramic clay department with two, large classroom studios. Since opening the building in 2013, WBCA’s clay programs have grown over 500%. The current clay studio has served us well; however, it has reached capacity for the growing needs of our clay program. It will be repurposed as a wonderful multi-use studio classroom. Think jewelry, stained glass, and other 3-D type art!
WBCA’s strong partnership with the White Bear Lake Area Schools has built important opportunities and programs for youth. This project will repurpose the current gallery into a beautiful, large classroom that will better serve groups of children who frequently make field trips to WBCA. It will also provide a lovely space for multi-day workshops and visiting artists.
The outside campus will provide beautiful park-like grounds for outdoor programs and events, including a firing yard outside of the clay studio. The grounds are designed to provide areas for quiet, contemplative walks and Plein Air painting, as well as areas for outdoor classes and community events. Public art and an accessible labyrinth will be key features. The campus will undoubtedly add to the growing opportunities of the Arts District as a destination for creativity and inspiration.
As we look towards the future with optimism and confidence, we stand behind the importance of the arts to provide space for creative growth, healing, joy, and the opportunity to explore the human experience in community. We thank you all for your love and support in growing your art center into a precious, community jewel. It is because of you, and for you, and with you, that we embark on the next chapter of WBCA’s creative journey.
It is an honor to help bring this project to life.
Alan Kantrud, WBCA Board Chair
Karen Kepple, WBCA Board Vice Chair, Facilities Committee Chair
Suzi Hudson, WBCA Executive Director
Announcing WBCA’s Expansion