Shemer

Director Shonna James said that conjoining the parcels will allow the creation of a Shemer campus with two educational buildings, an extended lawn and defined hardscape areas for events.

The Shemer Art Center has kicked off a fundraising campaign with hopes of raising funds to expand its facility. The property at 4601 N. Arcadia Drive is just south of the Shemer’s current campus. 

“This property is surrounded on three sides by current Shemer land,” said Shemer Art Center President and Executive Director Shonna James. “Buying this parcel would make so much sense for our future, and we’re staying focused on our future.”

The land contains a former private residence that was built in 1979. James describes this 3,400 square foot, three-story home as “having good bones and bigger rooms.” With a non-commercial kitchen area and a laundry room, purchasing this house will allow Shemer to expand its class offerings and public presentations as well as provide more space for meetings and staff offices. 

Shemer has created a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds that would help transform the house, create additional parking, double its current programs and meet a deadline of opening the new facility by June 2021. If purchased, Shemer plans to donate the new art center to the City of Phoenix to be conjoined with their current property.

“Our Expansion and Legacy Campaign kicked off in March,” James said, “and is planned to be a two million dollar, three-year effort that will be broken into three phases: acquisition of the property, rehab of the property/home and landscape redesign of the site.”

“To us,” James said, “buying this land is a now or never opportunity.” 

James explained if they hadn’t started a campaign for the property when they did, someone might have bought it and flipped it to create a larger, more expensive piece of real estate parcel. “Then it would have been forever out of our reach and be something we would always have to work around.”

The plot Shemer is hoping to purchase sits to the north of its secondary parking lot, which wraps around the property.

“We’ll still have the same entrances,” James said. “We just want to expand within our current footprint, which will provide additional room for weekday classes, weekend workshops, after school art clubs for kids and teens, art lectures and youth summer camps.”

Having designated spaces for classes means that Shemer would be able to dedicate one room as a ceramics studio and another one as a painting studio while reserving and retaining the ample main floor space for public lectures and other events. 

The expansion is enjoying support from the neighborhood and residents, but the campaign is far from over. Shemer has deep roots in the community with many nearby families who have generational connections to the art center. Shemer has also played host for many local weddings and other ceremonies.

“We look forward to acquiring the property and creating an expanded Shemer campus where art will continue to impact the lives of artists of all ages in Arcadia, the city of Phoenix and across the entire Valley and state of Arizona,” James said. 

For more: shemerartcenter.org