A local artist is hoping a sculpture foundry will help draw thousands of tourists and artists to Brevard, expanding an already vibrant art community and help art become the driving force of the local economy.
Brevard artist Ann DerGara is looking to build a sculpture foundry at the Brevard Lumberyard, located off King Street and Railroad Avenue, in hopes of providing artists a place to cast sculptures as well as being an art tourism destination.
“When you increase the arts in an area, you increase the tourism,” DerGara said.
DerGara is part of a growing arts community that has helped a city once flourishing with industry and manufacturing reinvent itself.
She’s hoping a foundry will throw fuel on to the fire.
“We’ve just tried to think of things to help the economy grow,” she said. “The arts are a viable economy.”
A foundry is typically a factory designed to produce metal castings. In this case, the metal castings are sculptures created by an artist. In the process, an artist will create an original sculpture in clay, wax or wood and then make a two-part mold encasing which hot bronze, or other metal, is eventually poured in, creating the sculpture.
DerGara said foundries are very popular with artists and there are only a handful of them in the U.S ., creating a high demand for those that exist.
The lack of foundries forces artists to travel far, spending money on resources, just to be able to create their work.
The closest foundry for Asheville area artists is located in Atlanta, DerGara said. The foundry draws not just the artists that use the facility, but thousands of tourists who show up in droves to watch the pouring of hot metal during the creation of the sculptures.
“If we could attract these people, we would help the economy,” she said.
According to a study by the North Carolina Arts Council, visitors of nonprofit arts and culture programs from outside the region spend an average of nearly $60 per person in the community beyond the cost of the event.
The same study said all nonprofit cultural audiences spend $60.7 million a year and nonprofit arts organizations contribute $79 million to the Western North Carolina economy each year. Together, nonprofit arts groups and their audiences return more than $6 million in annual revenue to local governments.
Lumberyard owner Josh Leder said a foundry would make a great addition to the popular arts district and that more art attractions would help take an area already seeing growth from art tourism to the next level.
“Everyone knows this is an upcoming area,” Leder said.
City planning officials acknowledged DerGara has been working with them on plans for the foundry but that nothing had been finalized yet. The foundry would be set up as a not-for-profit. However, DerGara estimates the foundry would be a source of income, which would be poured back into the local art community.
DerGara has raised an undisclosed amount of money to get the project rolling and is continuing fundraising efforts until goals are met. She said she would need to raise enough money to not only build the foundry but to employ two full-time employees who’d run the facilities and programs. She hopes to have full casting services, educational workshops, artwork shows and sales as well as an outdoor sculpture garden.
“A facility like this, here, people would come from everywhere to watch it,” said DerGara.
To donate to the foundry project, checks can be made out to Community Focus Foundation/Brevard Sculpture Project/Foundry and sent to Ann DerGara, Red Wolf Gallery, 8 E. Main St ., Brevard N.C. 21847. All donations are tax deductible.
For more information on how to become involved in the project, contact DerGara or Tom Cabe at (828) 862-8620.