Pottstown Borough Council Supports The Arts

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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One of the agenda items at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting was:

8.  Motion to approve the submission of an application to the Montgomery County Community Revitalization Board and prioritize from the following projects:

  1. Western Gate
  2. Gallery on High
  3. Pottstown Skyline Lighting Project

Councilor Joe Kirkland made a motion to change the order making the Gallery on High the first priority, the Skyline Project would be second and the Western Gateway would be third. 

After making his motion, Councilor Kirkland spoke in favor of the Gallery on High in downtown Pottstown.  People attending shows, exhibits and classes can then take advantage of their proximity to places like the Brick House, Juan Carlos, Funky Lil’ Kitchen and other downtown bars, restaurants and shops.  In light of the recent budget cuts in Harrisburg, the Gallery School has offered to partner with Pottstown School District in the event arts funding is severely cut or eliminated so students will still have this important educational component.

Councilor Chomnuk disagreed and stated he preferred the Western Gateway be made the number one priority as it would be more beneficial to Pottstown.  Since the Gallery Building was already renovated, Chomnuk did not think the Gallery on High’s project would be approved by the county.

Councilor Allen agreed with Councilor Chomnuk.  She did express her feelings that the Gallery on High does good things but she feels the Western Gateway would be more beneficial.

Councilor Rhoads spoke in favor of the Gallery on High because they are an existing business and contribute to downtown Pottstown.  (If the Gallery could buy their building and make the necessary renovations to the third floor, basement and reconfigure their current layout, the Gallery could contribute even more to downtown Pottstown.)

Councilor Weand spoke in favor of the Gallery on High for many of the same reasons listed above.  He sees the benefit of having a thriving business on High Street that brings people into downtown Pottstown “our mall”.

President Toroney spoke in favor of the Gallery on High. The arts are listed in the Urban Land Institute Report as a way to revitalize downtown Pottstown and we should follow the suggestions of this study.  He also recognizes the contribution the Gallery and TriPAC make to our downtown.  President Toroney and his wife attended “The Crucible” production at the TriPAC and he stated he only recognized about three people.  People are coming into Pottstown from outside the borough to attend these productions.

Councilor Gibson did not speak as he was not present at tonight’s meeting

After much discussion, a roll call vote was taken:

Allen – NO

Chomnuk – NO

Kirkland – Yes

Rhoads – Yes

Weand – Yes

Toroney – Yes

Gibson – absent

Mr. Kirkland’s motion passed making the Gallery on High proposal the borough’s number one priority when applying for these county funds.

Cathy Paretti, Co-Founder and Director of the Gallery addressed Council during the comments from citizen’s present, before the vote.  Mrs. Paretti asked Council to please make this project a priority.  She explained that if the Gallery could buy their building they could make the necessary renovations to expand their presence downtown and services to residents.  Cathy also mentioned that the Gallery has a great relationship with the Pottstown School District and if arts education gets cut from the budget, due to decreased funding from Harrisburg, the Gallery would be there to pick up the slack.  Also present in a show of support was Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Gallery School, Erika Hornburg-Cooper.

Roy’s Rants gives Pottstown Council two thumbs up for supporting an existing downtown business, supporting the arts and paying attention to the ULI Report’s recommendations to move Pottstown forward. 

We hope the county sees the wisdom of this decision.  Jason Bobst, Borough Manager and Erica Weekly, Assistant to the Borough Manager will be presenting this proposal to the county so I feel we are in good hands as they are excellent public speakers who can effectively articulate our needs.

The Gallery School of Pottstown & Gallery on High – A Pottstown Jewel

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

Pottstown is most fortunate to have an art school and art gallery on our main street.  The Gallery School of Pottstown & Gallery on High, located at 254 E. High Street, is a non-profit organization that includes a gallery featuring local/national/international art as well as an art school. 

The school’s main mission is to provide a solid educational foundation to youth and adults.  This school operates regardless of income levels as there are scholarships and tuition assistance available.  Classes are small and taught by professional artists to make sure students receive as much personal attention as possible.  The Gallery also has an after-school program, special programs during the school year and summer programs.

There are two galleries which showcase exhibits.  The upstairs gallery features a more permanent exhibit by member artists.  The downstairs gallery hosts theme exhibits and member exhibits which change often.  Styles and mediums vary.  Exhibits are open to the public and free of charge.

The Gallery on High’s Community and Education Partners are Creative Health Services, Inc., Pottstown School District and Brookside Montessori.

One way Pottstown will go about revitalization is to involve the arts.  Establishing and supporting an arts community will make Pottstown a destination that draws visitors from outside the borough into Pottstown to attend events.  The spin-off from hosting events is the additional spending that occurs in local bars, restaurants and shops.  The Gallery on High compliments the TriPAC Performing Arts Center, the Pottstown Symphony and other existing arts/cultural organizations in Pottstown.  The ability to attract and retain artists as residents, by providing assistance programs and housing/studio space, will fuel Pottstown’s efforts to become a destination.

We urge you to check out the website and take advantage of this unique downtown Pottstown resource.

For more information on the Gallery School of Pottstown/The Gallery on High:

Voice – (610) 326-2506

Email – info@galleryonhigh.com

Website – http://www.galleryonhigh.com/index.html

Gallery School Membership & Donations: http://www.galleryonhigh.com/memberships.html