October 22, 2021

Dollars for art

Creston:Arts kicks off capital campaign for Huff building renovations

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The Huff Bakery, or White Dairy building, at the corner of West Adams and North Division streets has been a symbol of art in Creston for years with its full wall of mural to the east and numerous paintings on the west and south sides of the building.

Last year, Iowa State Savings Bank gifted the building to Creston:Arts to be used as an art center along with $50,000 toward the renovation costs. The arts center will house many of the ongoing programs such as art camp and Chalk the Town, as well as be a place to store the art materials that are currently scattered across town in members homes and businesses.

New projects, including an after school program, community art classes and visiting artists programs, will also have a home there. The council plans to resurrect Open Mic events as well.

Friday, Creston:Arts held the kickoff for the campaign to raise the rest of the money with a freewill donation dinner and informational session.

Prior to the kick off another, $1,000 had already been raised including a $500 donation from Walmart. Another donor sponsored the radio advertising for the event.

Jesse Bolinger of Bolinger Solutions – a business and non-profit consulting service – has been asked by the arts council to lead the fund raising efforts.

Creston:Arts hopes to complete phase one of the renovation and occupy the building by 2021 Bolinger said. The first stage of construction will include repairing the roof and preparing the first floor with a reception area, classrooms and “maker spaces” for pottery, glassblowing and digital media. Bolinger said the estimated cost was around $236,000 for this phase.

Creston:Arts will need to raise an additional $125,000 for the second phase and $130,000 for phase three.

Phase two will focus on turning the second floor into a gallery and performance space. The current stairs will be kept and an elevator will be installed. Arts council member Brian Zachary said it will be important to assure accessibility to that space for all.

The third phase seeks to create an endowment to allow for sustainability of the project. Bolinger said it is important to secure the future of the building for the next generation of artists.

“If you look at it, that’s three generations involved in the arts,” Bolinger said of his grandmother Judy Beercamp — who was a founding member of the Creston arts council — himself and his cousin Bailey Fry-Schnormeier and her daughter Leona.

Bolinger also said that solar panels may be a part of that sustainability. An original plan for a rooftop garden proved to be impractical due to liability and insurance issues as well as structural challenges. Adding solar panels to the roof could significantly lower the costs of maintaining the building, Bolinger said.


A combination of grant writing and soliciting donations from private individuals and businesses will be used to raise the nearly $500,000 needed to complete the project.

Much of the sum will be raised through grants. Bolinger has been working on a $60,000 grant plus others whose amounts vary due to aspects of the support already pledged and percentage of total costs.

Many of the grants available to non-profits for construction such as this require matching funds. To secure those funds, private donors will be approached. Bolinger said he prefers to meet with potential donors face to face.

“If you ask for money — whether it’s $25 or $500 — you go see that person in person,” he said, adding that even if you don’t get a donation immediately, circumstances might allow them to donate later.

In-kind donations such as volunteer work often count towards those matching funds as well. Bolinger said he has discounted his fees because of his association with the arts council. The difference will go back into the Creston:Arts funds and can be counted as an in-kind contribution.

Bolinger said a giving thermometer will soon be in place on the front of the building to track the fundraising efforts.

Volunteer opportunities

The arts council can always use volunteers for its many programs. More volunteers will be needed as the fundraising efforts gather steam. Bolinger said he can use volunteers for clerical activities like stapling packets together and synthesizing reports or for direct fundraising.

Creston Area Little Stuff has volunteered to help clean out the building. Bolinger said the council will not be asking for more help with that project due to the liability issues involved in working in a building that needs repairs.

Those interested in donating and/or volunteering can contact Bolinger at 641-455-2896 or jess@bolinger.org. Donations can also be made through any art council member or online at www.crestonarts.com.