MORRISON – An upscale art gallery that is the first step in establishing the Morrison Arts, Cultural and Entertainment Corridor has won a Governor’s Hometown Award.
Loft 112, at 112 E. Main St., opened Dec. 15, and now has more than 50 artists creating and selling their works.
The idea of the art corridor was the result of collaboration between the Morrison Area Development Corp. and the Children’s Art Preservation Association, a group that sponsors the city’s popular Paint the Town event.
The arts trail would be centered in the downtown, but would incorporate much of the city from U.S. 30 to state Route 78 and the Morrison Institute of Technology.
Morrison was one of 23 winners this year. Four projects were selected as cup finalists – the best in each population category. Those four communities, which include LaSalle County and its Vietnam Moving Wall project, went before another group of judges to determine the overall best project.
The Governor’s Hometown Awards, first presented in 1983, are given annually to projects sponsored by local government but brought to fruition by strong volunteer support. The projects are judged on volunteerism, and impact in the community and the state.
“After filling out an application, we were invited to Springfield to make a presentation and answer questions from the panel,” said Kim Ewoldsen, executive director at the development corporation.
The Whiteside Area Career Center added a special local touch by making a video for the presentation.
“The judges did their homework and knew a lot about our project,” Ewoldsen said. “They understood the big picture behind the arts corridor and it was super-well-received.”
A group of Morrison officials will attend an awards reception Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. The overall winner will be announced during the event.
The gallery is in the process of getting its nonprofit status. The final paperwork was submitted and now the Loft board is waiting for notification. The plan for the development corporation is to ease out of the day-to-day operations and hand over the keys to the volunteers.
More than 200 people attended an Oct. 20 fundraiser for the project that yielded more than $2,500. Goals include setting up scholarships for art and music lessons and setting up special needs classes.
“We were approached about the need for music and art therapy classes because they aren’t always covered by insurance,” Ewoldsen said.
The gallery also wants to step up its partnership with Woodlawn Arts Academy and plan more exhibits.