Divine Art Records to set up New England Community Arts Center

The American branch of Divine Art Records (Brandon Music), opened two years ago in Brandon, Vermont, is to establish a new regional music and arts center in the town.

After almost 20 years of lying deserted,  life is about to return to the last corner of the former Brandon Training School, where a building which  housed many classrooms, the infirmary and residential facilities for children with special educational needs,  has been acquired by the company.

Plans for the now-derelict building, to be known as the Compass Music and Arts Center, are extensive and community-based.

While details are subject to many factors such as funding and joint venture arrangements, company CEO Stephen Sutton hopes to include a sizeable concert hall and jazz/recital lounge, music teaching facilities and rehearsal rooms, dance studio, recording facilities, and a music therapy center.  Provision is to be made for artists’ and sculptors’ studios, together with an exhibition gallery..  A non-profit (charitable) foundation is being set up with a board of local professionals to raise the money, amounting to approximately $3m, necessary to renovate and equip the building and to manage and fund the community, educational and artistic activities. One of the company’s aims is to include a student exchange with the UK for voice and choral training,  though this may not be feasible for 2 or 3 years.

The Phonograph Room currently at Brandon Music will relocate and gradually expand into a substantial museum and recordings archive. Also included will be a restaurant for use of patrons and tenants.

Firstly, though, is the task of upgrading basic services to the building, including power, water and sewers, which had all been disconnected, and carrying out environmental and health and safety surveys. This will take some time; and the Divine Art management hope to bring one wing of the building into usable condition over the winter and pre-let space, as it becomes ready for refurbishment.

A number of individuals and organizations, such as piano and flute teachers, artists, and sculptors, have already expressed interest in moving in; and the owners stress that, besides all of their planned uses,  a number of rooms and units will be available for occupation privately by professionals and businesses of various kinds.

The building, which has over 30,000 square feet of usable space, was originally constructed in 1962 and closed in 1993.   A longer term plan, currently under discussion by the design team, is to transform the fairly plain institutional building into a state of the art ‘green’ facility, with unique design features and environmental considerations.

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