The New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) recently announced that West Windsor Arts would receive a portion of the more than $3.6 million awarded through their new Capital Arts grant program. The program is designed to help New Jersey’s nonprofit arts organizations build operational stability and capacity by supporting capital improvement, renovation, and new construction projects. West Windsor Arts is set to receive $87,750 and is one of 38 organizations awarded a grant. The purpose of West Windsor Arts’ award is to support renovation of the backyard of the West Windsor Arts Center, improving its function as a beautiful, periodic open-air classroom and event space for our community.

West Windsor Arts rents the left half of building at 952 Alexander Rd from West Windsor Township. As our landlord, the township is responsible for the upkeep of the building, grounds, and for making major repairs. Therefore, in order to present a successful proposal for renovations, West Windsor Arts had to share its proposal and acquire a letter of consent from the township. This summer, the organization will undertake a rigorous process of further developing its designs with both professional and community input, applying for needed permits and variances, and implementing a bidding process for the work. According to the grant guidelines, all work must be complete by December 31, 2023, but it is the goal of West Windsor Arts to complete the work in time for summer camp 2023.

The proposed area for renovation.

West Windsor Arts has long used its backyard during summer camp season to provide both play space and classroom space for our young artists as well as throughout the year for adult classes and events. Plagued by rotting siding that attracts stinging bugs, unwanted critters, and a not so inspiring backdrop, one of the first orders of business will be to remove the deteriorating wood structure that abuts the space from the right side (called the bays) of the building. To create a protected area for the children, we proposed adding a 500 square foot covered porch with concrete patio attached to the building to provide cover from sun and light rain. Additionally, a 225 square foot shed, meeting all codes for ventilation and fire prevention, would be set in place of the removed wooden structure to house a new electric kiln along with related materials and storage. Since the yard is open to the street and neighbors, it poses a concern for safety and privacy. Therefore, we also propose to add a privacy fence to enclose the yard. Stormwater regulations are a known concern and West Windsor Arts has included provisions for a dry well and regrading to mitigate possible runoff in its proposal.

We are incredibly grateful to the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for supporting this opportunity to build operational stability and to the Township of West Windsor for their partnership and support to improve a community asset. The success of this proposal was also supported by the pro-bono services of Heidi Kleinman, RA.

A community input session will be scheduled at a time TBD in order more fully share the proposed plans and solicit feedback. For updates and information, please join our email list.

Visit nj.gov/state/njsca/ for more information on NJSCA and the programs being funded by their recent round of grant awards.