$50K donated to Gilroy arts center

The Gilroy Interim Center for the Arts is located at 7341 Monterey St.

The Gilroy Center for the Arts is receiving a new push from some
familiar faces.
The Gilroy Center for the Arts is receiving a new push from some familiar faces.

Don and Karen Christopher have donated $50,000 to the Gilroy Foundation to renovate the center, which needs major upgrades to its lighting and restrooms, Gilroy Arts Alliance President Sylvia Myrvold said.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Myrvold said. “It’s going to allow us to do things we’ve had on our list for the last year but we just couldn’t handle.”

Those tasks include updating the restrooms to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and replacing indoor fluorescent lights with something “a little gentler on the art and the performances,” Myrvold said.

The money will also pay for outdoor lighting and a marquee on the front of the building, which is located at 7341 Monterey Road on the south end of downtown. Myrvold said replacing the center’s tile floor also might be in the works.

“Every time we move a piece of furniture, another chip comes off,” she laughed.

The renovations are scheduled to begin this summer and should be completed by late fall, said Gilroy Foundation Executive Director Donna Pray, who praised the Christophers for their donation.

“(They) are tremendous supporters of our town and our residents,” Pray said. “I’m loving putting together a partnership like this.”

Don Christopher said the donation came completely out of necessity.

“I want them to do all these things because we need them,” he said.

He added, “I saw what it (the center) looked like. I said, ‘We’ll take care of it.’ ”

The center is the interim home of the Gilroy Arts Alliance and sits on land purchased for the construction of a new $25 million center. That project, however, has been delayed because of several years of a slowed economy, Pray said.

The rest of the land is used for the Gilroy Demonstration Garden, and future plans call for an outdoor theater at the back corner of the property located at Seventh and Eigleberry streets.

Myrvold said those were just several ways downtown could embrace the arts while waiting for the construction of the new center. She said she hoped there would also be funding leftover to construct an information kiosk in the center’s front courtyard where local businesses and artists could promote upcoming events.

“Our goal right now is working toward building the support center. Once the center is there, people will be used to coming downtown for events,” Myrvold said. “And when the time comes, we get to move into the building.”

The City of Gilroy is also expected to have a hand in improving the area around the center.

Two vacant unreinforced masonry buildings between the center and the Porcella’s Music store on Monterey Road will be demolished, according to Kristi Abrams, the city’s community development director. In their place, the city will lay new grass leading from the Monterey Road sidewalk to Eigleberry Street, said.

City Engineer Rick Smelser said the buildings would be demolished by early October.

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