Featherstone Center for the Arts receives whopping $2.9 million gift

Featherstone leaders said the money from an anonymous donor would be used to support the art center and revitalize its Oak Bluffs campus.

Featherstone Center for the Arts. –Michael Cummo

Featherstone Center for the Arts Thursday announced it had received a recent gift of $2,870,000 from an anonymous donor. The money has been earmarked for the center’s capital campaign, according to a press release.

Featherstone said $1,000,000 will be used for the center’s endowment; $870,000 will be used to endow the executive director’s position; and $1,000,000 will go towards the future Art Barn.

“The campaign for Featherstone addresses the art center’s long term goals and master plan for the campus renovation and renewal,” Featherstone said.

“Featherstone has prospered in makeshift buildings. It was originally a farm and we have used all of the barns and stables as best as possible, converting them into art studios,” executive director Ann Smith said. “Now, the time has come to create purpose-built classrooms and spaces to provide students, artists and visitors proper facilities; and to make Featherstone the exceptional art center we want it to be.”

This year, Featherstone celebrates its 20th Anniversary as Featherstone Center for the Arts. Previously known as Meetinghouse Center for the Arts, Featherstone was created in 1996 when six acres of Featherstone Farm and its buildings were purchased to form the new art center campus. Featherstone Center for the Arts established its permanent home through the conversion of a farmhouse, barn, and other structures, as well as the creation of an endowment. For the past twenty years, Featherstone has operated as a year-round educational and creative art center for the Martha’s Vineyard community, according to the press release.

“After surveying students, teachers and artists, a master plan for the campus was developed. Buildings were analyzed for use and needs, resulting in plans to renovate where possible, and build new where necessary. The project was broken into three phases to realistically meet fundraising goals and accommodate Featherstone’s year-round operations.”

Phase One addresses the immediate need to create a better functioning and larger capacity Pottery Studio.

Phase Two comprises the construction of the new Art Barn: a building that will house appropriately sized classrooms, administrative offices, a community meeting room, a teaching kitchen, proper storage, and a large purpose-built gallery to accommodate varied installations.

Phase Three will focus on renovating existing buildings, such as the Farmhouse, which currently holds the gallery and offices; the Studio, where the bulk of drawing and painting classes take place with the Children’s Studio below; and the Pebble, the additional multipurpose gallery/meeting/classroom building. The creation of new, functioning spaces will enable Featherstone to accommodate artists and art enthusiasts in suitable environments.

“Featherstone has operated happily and soundly for twenty years on this campus. We own six acres of land and all buildings without debt, and have a healthy endowment created at the organization’s inception. It is a testament to the excellent management and stewardship of executive directors and members of the board of directors, past and present,” Judy Cunniffe, president of the board, said.

This recent generous gift contributes to Featherstone’s perpetuity with $1,870,000 being endowed. The additional $1,000,000 sets the stage for pursuing the renewed campus, enabling Featherstone to begin planning for the Art Barn in the near future. Featherstone has been quietly raising funds toward the Pottery Studio, through contributions and grants. To date, $750,000 has been raised in gifts and pledges. The estimated cost of Phase One and Two of the project is $3,500,000.

Fundraising for the Campaign for Featherstone continues, to reach this goal and to further raise funds for Phase Three and the renovations of existing buildings. Featherstone Center for the Arts is seeking broad public support for the creation of new and renovated spaces to better meet the creative needs of Island residents and visitors.

For more information go to featherstoneart.org.