Bill Provides Art Center Funds

OCEAN CITY — The proposed new Ocean City Center for the Arts, approved by the Mayor and Council last fall, could get a significant boost in state funding assistance if a bill introduced in the General Assembly by local legislators last week is approved by state lawmakers.

Last week, Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) introduced Senate Bill 275, which, if approved, would authorize the creation of a state debt not to exceed $250,000 for use in the development of a new 7,500-square-foot Ocean City art facility on the site of the Art League of Ocean City’s former home on 94th Street. Delegate Norman Conway (D-38B) also introduced the bill on the House side.

Called the Ocean City Center for the Arts in the legislation, the new two-story, 7,500-square-foot facility will replace the existing structure used by the Art League for several years.

The new facility will include classrooms, gallery space, individual studio space for artists to rent, storage areas, offices and a multi-purpose area.

Last October, the Mayor and Council approved the construction of the new facility, which comes with an estimated price tag of around $800,000. The town of Ocean City will bond roughly $600,000 of the cost, while the Art League is expected to contribute the remaining $200,000.

However, the $800,000 estimate includes only “bricks and mortar,” and does not include any funding for finishing the interior space. To that end, Mathias and Conway last week introduced legislation to provide up to $250,000 in state funding for assistance in finishing the project.

“The town is financing the threshold, but the town’s contribution does not include any funding for finishing the interior, such as light fixtures and bathrooms,” said Mathias this week. “The arts are a critical, valuable and inspiring part of the community and we’re working hard to ensure the state contributes funding to this important project.”

Mathias said he hopes to convince his colleagues in the General Assembly of the worthiness of the project.

“This is a capital project that comes with the creation of jobs,” he said. “The Art League has proven to be an important asset to the resort community and the citizens, the Mayor and Council and the visitors to Ocean City have all stressed how vitally important this new facility is to them.”

In October, the Mayor and Council approved a 50-year lease for the Art League for the new facility. The terms of the lease include an annual rent of $1, which were the terms of the lease with the original facility.

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