OCEAN CITY – After years of operating in close quarters and making efforts to expand its facility, the Art League of Ocean City (ALOC) might finally get its wish, with agreement from the City Council this week to lend a hand in the expansion of the existing building.
“The importance of cultural tourism has really grown,” said ALOC President Rina Thaler, in her annual presentation to the Mayor and City Council this week.
Thaler emphasized the importance of attracting and enticing resort visitors in new and unique ways, particularly through the arts.
“Even though we aren’t a city agency, we enhance the city,” said Thaler of the non-profit organization that has been in operation since the 1960s, providing art classes, exhibits, fundraisers and events to the town.
In 1984, the ALOC moved into its current home on 94th Street, occupying a city-owned building. Inevitable growth and expansion has led to a cramped space, reported Thaler this week.
“It’s gotten to the point now that there’s not an inch of space left in this building,” she said.
According to Thaler, plans to expand the building have been in the works for years, but with limited funding and without the aid of the town, expansion has remained a dream.
“We’re trying to expand your building,” said Thaler, pointing out that assistance through grant money is difficult to obtain without the town’s grants coordinator.
Because the building belongs to the town, grant money sought by the non-profit ALOC is limited, said Thaler.
“The beauty of it is the property is there. I can’t make it happen, only you guys can,” said Thaler, adding that the ALOC is more than willing to contribute to the effort, with fundraising efforts already underway.
Mayor Rick Meehan suggested having the town’s grants coordinator meet with the ALOC to assist with grant requests and to give everyone a better idea of available funding. The town could then partner with ALOC to expand the building through grants, fundraising on the private sector and possibly city funding.
“You had a great vision 24 years ago when you moved into that facility. The amount of use, and what you’ve gotten out of it is incredible,” said Meehan.
The ALOC will also continue to do its part, said Thaler. Through a University of Maryland Eastern Shore grant, an arts consulting firm was hired and brought to the ALOC this spring. The firm will return this fall for a community art summit, in an effort to get a better grasp on the growing arts needs in the community.