by Anne Houston
HARDWICK – NEKarts, a non-profit volunteer board that manages the Hardwick Town House, is seeking community input on the Town House building and its role in the region. The request for feedback is related to planned capital improvements to the building, for which NEKarts recently received $50,000 from the Freeman Foundation.
The improvements focus on bringing fire egress up to code and mitigating water damage, as well as installing a lift to make the stage fully ADA-compliant. Following a facility assessment, planning phase, and architect consultations and designs, the project is expected to cost approximately $150,000.
“We’re exceptionally grateful for this award,” said board chair Shari Cornish, “it is critical to ensuring an inclusive and safe environment and maintaining the building as a community resource.” Cornish said the plans were drawn to preserve the historic character and architectural detailing of the building. The board is undertaking additional fundraising through grants and donations to bridge the additional $100,000 expected for the project.
Cornish explained, “The board has continued to meet and plan during the pandemic despite not being able to have performances. We’re looking ahead to the future, thinking of ways we can meet our mission, better serve our patrons, and be responsible stewards of the building. And that has begged a few questions: what experiences have they had there? What activities would people like to see happening at the Town House? What do they value in community?”
There is a survey linked at hardwicktownhouse.org for individuals to complete.
A regular home to popular performing groups such as the Craftsbury Chamber Players and Vermont Vaudeville, the Town House has also partnered with Jeudevine Memorial Library, the Hardwick Historical Society, Chamber of Commerce, local schools and other non-profits. NEKarts’ mission is to preserve and operate the Hardwick Town House as a center for entertainment, education, and community engagement.
Readers can learn more about the Town House’s history and complete the survey at hardwicktownhouse.org.