Cultural garden may become reality for GO Art!

Feb 21, 2020

BATAVIA — Among the myriad of grants the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO Art!) is hoping to get is one for a cultural garden around its building at the corner of Bank and West Main streets.

GO Art! Executive Director Gregory Hallock met Wednesday with the county Ways and Means Committee to discuss the project, which he said is in the “planning, planning stages.”

“I was with (the committee) because I would like to purchase the garden space that they have so that can become one with our space so that we have a bigger garden to use for our creative arts camps,” he said. “We’ve been talking to the YMCA and the Senior Center about doing some combined programming, so basically, we’re just trying to use it for all that.”

GO Art! is applying for a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Hallock said the total project cost is about $350,000, but said he didn’t have the exact figure available.

“I’m praying that we’ll have a solution, that we’ll know at least before the summer, because the goal is to get everything done this year so that next year, it will be ready to be used,” Hallock said.

Hallock said he met Wednesday with the Ways and Means Committee because GO Art!’s blacktop driveway would become part of the garden.

“At night, when the bar is open a couple of days a week, we can try to put a stage in so we can have band performances out there and different things,” he said. Hallock said the performances would be Thursday nights, with the Jackson Square Summer Concert Series shows being held Friday evenings.

Hallock aid there wouldn’t be room for lots of people at the GO Art! performances.

“We are talking 50 people, probably not hundreds,” he said.

County Manager Jay Gsell said, “The county is only being asked to permit part of our OFA (Office for the Aging)/2 Bank St. property to be used as part of the outdoor venue GO Art! wants to create.”

As far as the purchase of the property, Hallock said he mentioned an amount, but the cost hasn’t really been discussed yet.

“What I needed from them right now was the letter of support saying they’d be willing to sell the property to us providing we come up with the grant funding to get the property,” he said. Hallock said county leaders agreed to write a letter of support for the grant application.

As far as a deadline for the application, Hallock said, “Some of the information needs to be in by the end of the month, is the goal.”

“We are trying to redo all of the gardens around us. Basically, front-wise, it will be the floral arrangements and stuff like that,” he said. “Behind stuff ... we’ll have vegetables and herbs, and all that kind of stuff. They’ll be our art pieces. We’re looking for outdoor artists that do wood carvings or big pieces that are heavy that will be put out in the garden.” Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said there was overwhelming support for the GO Art! project as it is being proposed.

“We were thrilled with the support from the YMCA, UMMC (Rochester Regional Health-United Memorial Medical Center) and the OFA,” Stein said. “We encouraged the director to move forward with the grant proposal to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The county will be issuing a letter of support as well.

“We see this as a space that will be transformed into a more available public space for our community,” she said.

By Brian Quinn, The Batavia Daily News