Chandler Receives $200,000 Challenge

Arts / Jun. 12, 2008 12:00am EDT

Chandler Receives $200,000 Challenge

The Chandler Center for the Arts’ ambitious Centennial Project, which has been in its quiet fundraising phase for just over a year, got a big boost last week with the announcement of a $200,000 challenge grant from Jane’s Trust, according to board president Janet Watton.

Jane’s Trust is a charitable trust making grants in Massachusetts, northern New England, and Florida.

This project, envisioned as a way to uprade the building for a second century of service to Randolph and environs, had already received an early boost when the Town of Randolph, which owns the building, pledged $750,000 to the project (earmarked for safety and accessibility improvements) through a bond approved by voters on Town Meeting Day 2007. That same day, neighboring towns of Braintree and Brookfield also pledged $5000 and $3000, respectively.

The challenge grant from Jane’s Trust means that "individuals and businesses who contribute to the campaign between June 1 and the end of 2008 will see their contributions doubled by being matched by Jane’s Trust," she said.

There’s an added incentive—the conditions of the grant provide that the entire $200,000 in matching funds must be raised by Dec. 31. Otherwise there will be no money from Jane’s Trust.

"Based on support from donors from Randolph and surrounding communities, we have every reason to believe donors will help us meet this challenge," Watton declared.

Anchored by the 100-year-old Chandler Music Hall and home to the Chandler Gallery, the non-profit organization plans to bring the building into the next century with badly needed upgrades including sprinklers, accessibility, rest room facilities, and circulation in the crowded lobbies.

The plans, designed by Montpelier architects Gossens and Bachman Associates, will further tie together the two parts of the building, which for 30 years were separately owned. Also planned is a 6875-square-foot addition in the rear of the building in which to build theatrical sets and house an extensive costume collection, and to provide space for classrooms and community use.

"While Chandler is physically located in Randolph, it’s really a regional arts center," pointed out Becky McMeekin, executive director of the non-profit organization, which was founded in 1977 and operates the Chandler complex under a long-term lease from the town.

"We’re seeing the same pattern with the contributors to the campaign; they have been coming to us from throughout the whole region."

The news of the Jane’s Trust challenge grant comes at an ideal time for the Centennial Campaign, according to Linda Morse, campaign co-chair.

"In the last year of quiet-phase fundraising, despite a sluggish economy, we have already reached 39% of our $5 million goal," said Morse. "This will give us the boost we need to open up the campaign to the public phase. We couldn’t be more pleased."

For more information, or to contribute to the campaign, contact Chandler Center for the Arts at (802) 728-9878.

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