Happy 4th of July!

Troy Arts Center Receives $50k Pepsi Refresh Project Grant

The Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside has received the $50,000 grant it sought to complete the renovation of the 140-year-old Woodside Church on Mill Street into an artists’ space.

The nonprofit arts organization launched a campaign this past spring to win a grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project, an initiative founded earlier this year to provide financial support to ideas that will have a positive impact on communities. The Pepsi Refresh program, which awarded its first batch of grants to 32 recipients last month, invites community organizations, individuals and businesses to submit proposals that will help “refresh” their respective communities. Ideas range the gamut from education programs to arts initiatives to new playgrounds and treating dogs for heartworm, among other things. The company plans to award $1.3 million in grants each month.

The program is voter-driven, and the organizations and individuals competing for the grants are encouraged to get the community actively involved in their efforts.

Outreach by CAC’s staff and volunteers brought in thousands of daily votes from the Capital Region and across the nation, according to Executive Director Hezzie Phillips.

“Quite frankly I was astounded at the overwhelming support for the Woodside project,” said Phillips “We take it as a great sign to have so many friends that took the time to vote for us daily for weeks on end in order to secure these funds. It is exactly this supportive community that convinced us to move our organization to Troy in the first place. I feel like this area truly is the type of place where individuals can really make things happen.”

CAC was founded 20 years ago in North Adams, Mass., but moved their headquarters to Troy after losing their space there. In 2007, the organization purchased the former Woodside Presbyterian Church and its accompanying chapel in late 2007, and opened their artists’ residency space in the chapel in June 2009. Phillips said the organization is committed to art that’s more experimental and really pushes the boundaries of what people expect art

to be.

CAC plans to use the grant money to upgrade the stone church, which was built in 1869 for Henry Burden, owner of the Burden Iron Works. The church needs new plumbing and heating systems, as well as upgrades to the façade, among other renovations. When it’s completed, it will host everything from art exhibitions and performances to concerts and picnics.

Funds from the grant will be disbursed at the end of the month, and the organization hopes to begin initial work on the building as early as next month. An appreciation celebration featuring food, music and other festivities will be held on-site on July 10 to thank the community for its voting support.


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