Holmes Center for the Arts officially opens a new art center

BERLIN – Director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Office, Tiffany Gerber, summed up the new building of the Holmes Center for the Arts in Berlin as not only an incredible addition for the business world, but also for tourism in the region.

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“It always amazes me how this community comes together,” Gerber said. “It’s not always the opening of a new attraction or a new business that ticks both sides, but it does. It really adds to the quality of life for the community in general, the opportunities for education and also plans to incorporate arts programs for visitors. If you live here, do business here, or visit here, the Holmes Center for the Arts meets all those needs.”

Holley Johnson, executive director of the Holmes Center for the Arts, thanks everyone for coming out to celebrate the arts in Holmes County on Monday at the grand opening of the new HCA Center in Berlin.

HCA Executive Director Holley Johnson welcomed everyone to the new Holmes County Arts Center.

“We were blessed by all of you here today, and many who couldn’t be here today, for your overwhelming support for the Holmes Center for the Arts,” Johnson said. “Without you, this building would not be possible. We are excited about every aspect of this building. But we know, like you, that it is more than a building. It is a place where people will come together for generations to learn, create, tell stories and grow through music, art, dance and theatre.

Holmes Center for the Arts builds community and enriches lives

“It’s a place where community is built and lives are enriched, regardless of an individual’s social or economic background,” she continued. “In addition to our regular classes, we seek to reach the underserved through our programming for the elderly, people with disabilities, those in need, and those in our after-school programs for our at-risk teens. We don’t have no desire to change Holmes County, only to use our gifts, our talents and this building for the good of those around us.”

Johnson thanked state officials and other elected officials whom she called “really selfless public servants.”

She thanked officials who were in office when HCA received capital funding, including Senator Jay Hottinger, former Rep. Al Landis, former Senator Larry Obhofff, Rep. Darrell Kick, and Rep. Brett Hillyer.

“They understand how a beautiful and spacious arts center will enrich this community,” she added.

Holley Johnson, executive director of the Holmes Center for the Arts, cuts the ribbon for the official opening of the new HCA building in Berlin as HCA board member Tonya Schlabach (left to right), the county commissioner of Holmes Joe Miller, State Senator Jay Hottinger and State Representative Darrell Kick look on during the Monday celebration.

Johnson also thanked Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services for their grant, which enables HCA to provide life-changing prosocial activities for young people, and the many individuals and businesses who helped make the dream of the new building.

“Thank you for understanding the power of the arts and how consistent adult mentors can impact the lives of our children,” she said.

Hottinger pointed out that Johnson is a very vocal advocate and pit bull for Holmes County, who was wonderful to work with during the process of securing funding for the facility.

Senator Jay Hottinger on the new HCA facility: “A great example”

“I think this is a great example of what a community can do by mobilizing public and private funds,” Hottinger said. “It’s bigger than I expected. When I think of Holmes County, I think of faith, family, friends and I also think of food. With Holley’s work and the talented artisans who are here, young and old, of myriad skill levels, I think we’re going to have to start thinking of Holmes County as a place to celebrate the arts I know that’s been Holley’s dream , and you see the realization of his dream today. Congratulations on a beautiful installation.”

Fifth grade Holmes County student Paxton Baker proudly displays his still life art to his parents Rock and Bonnie Baker during the open house at the official opening of the Holmes Center for the Arts in Berlin.

Hottinger presented a proclamation to Johnson on behalf of the Ohio State Senate.

Holmes County Commissioner Joe Miller, who has been a big supporter of HCA since its inception, said he didn’t know much about the arts, but he knew the people.

“A lot of people are happy with mediocrity, and there’s no mediocrity here,” Miller said. “There are also people who want to be served, but this group wants to serve. What they have done here is amazing. We are so lucky to be here in Holmes County.”

Kick noted that it’s fun time, after all the hard work that has gone into getting to this point.

“The development and collaboration to achieve this is just phenomenal to see the finished product,” Kick said. “The arts require a different skill. We may all have a little bit in us, but some excel at it. It’s interesting for a wide range of people, and to see an effort like this, I can understand why so many people wanted to attend this and are willing to help.”

Many patrons attend the grand opening ceremony of the new building of the Holmes Center for the Arts in Berlin.

Holmes Center for the Arts continues to grow and expand the arts

Johnson concluded that HCA is excited to continue to grow and provide more to the community through this space.

HCA board member Tonya Schlabach praised Johnson’s work as a leader bringing good people together.

“She’s there for the students, she’s there for the people, she’s there for the community,” Schlabach said. “You have to be passionate about what you do to get something like this off the ground. I love seeing her make the arts an important part of our community.”

Holmes Center for the Arts board member Jay McCulloch describes the interior of the new Black Box Theater still under construction at Berlin's new Holmes Center for the Arts.

Johnson explained that construction of the HCA building was split into two phases due to the pandemic and an increase in material costs. The Arts and Education Spaces became Phase 1, and the Multipurpose Theater Space was Phase 2.

Funding still needed for HCA theater interior

The theater will be used for performances, galleries, dinner theatres, rehearsals, the HCA after-school program for at-risk teens, lectures, quilt bees and other events.

Additional funds have yet to be raised to complete the interior of the theatre. HCA has raised $608,000 for the project, but still needs another $600,000 to complete it. Interested donors are asked to contact Johnson at 330-473-2879 or [email protected] Donations can also be made online at: www.holmescenterforthearts.org/donate.

Cathie Lynch, (right) one of the visual arts professors at the Holmes Center for the Arts talks to Mark Gazdik and Steve Schneiter of the Ohio Star Theater during Open House Monday at the new Holmes Center building for the Arts in Berlin.