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Woodstock gets $20K grant for Old Courthouse artist space study

WOODSTOCK – The city of Woodstock has received a $20,000 grant to fund a study that will determine the needs of the arts community in the city and how the Old Courthouse and Sheriff's House can be used as a space for artists.

For years, the city has been trying to determine a use for the property it acquired in 2011 that holds the Old Courthouse Arts Center.

The Minneapolis-based nonprofit Artspace will visit Woodstock May 18 and 19 to tour the city and meet with focus groups. The group also will look for public input at a presentation at 7 p.m. May 18 at Stage Left Cafe, 125 E. Van Buren St.

“Our mission as a nonprofit is to create, foster and preserve affordable space for the creative sector,” Wendy Holmes said. “So we do our own developments to create space that’s affordable, and help others figure that out as well.”

Holmes, Artspace senior vice president of consulting and strategic partnerships, said the group will be providing consulting services for Woodstock, and writing a report on how the building could be used for the arts and funded.

The Artspace grant is meant to work in conjunction with the technical assistance panel report, which were both funded by the McHenry County Community Foundation, Woodstock grant writer Terry Willcockson said.

"They can use [the report] as a basis and take that to a more refined level,” Willcockson said.

Whether the report will suggest expanding the existing art gallery, or using the building for educational purposes like the TAP report suggested, "We just really don’t know," Willcockson said.

“Woodstock has that reputation in the county as really being a focal point for the arts community, so they would be looking at things that are really a community-driven need,” Willcockson said. “And of course, the big puzzle piece is where the funding comes from for the restoration.”

She said the Old Courthouse and Sheriff's House Advisory Commission and Friends of the Old Courthouse will use the report to help determine what happens next with the property.

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