WESTMINSTER -- Surrounded by newly spackled drywall, the executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council said she feels like George Bailey in "It's A Wonderful Life."
Since the arts council moved May 1 to a new center on the ground floor of the Winchester Exchange, Hilary Pierce said, volunteers have come to her "rescue" with gifts of time, talent and money, helping to renovate the new space.
The way the community has rallied around the effort reminded Pierce of the final scene of the classic Frank Capra film, in which neighbors pour into the Bailey home with gifts.
When the council moved to its new location, members and other volunteers went right to work transforming the 1,800-square-foot space into a gallery and offices.
"We just love our painters and carpenters, the electronics students at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center and young artists, too," Pierce said.
Dancers got on their toes to help. The Patty Neivert School of Dance played to a full house at a recent benefit, adding about $1,400 to the council's renovation funds.
"We have had an enormous amount of community support, both from individuals and businesses," she said. "Many skilled volunteers have donated woodworking and cabinetry."
Pierce, who became director last September, said she sees the center as a focus and hub of activity for area artists. Its main entrance will be from East Main Street.
"We want to reflect what the artist sees in Carroll County and provide information about what is available outside this area," she said.
She is especially eager to take advantage of the space, which is about 1,200 square feet more than was available at the former offices.
"The council hasn't had this much room since its days in the old Davis Library," she said.
The Court Street offices did not meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"We were in a do-or-die situation," she said. "In order to receive state money, we had to be fully accessible."
In the midst of the transition and con
struction work, the council has planned several events, including its Coffee House and last month's Art Show.
"We are continually amazed at the large turnouts we have, given the limited funds we have for publicity," she said.
After two months of work, Pierce said she sees the light through the construction dust.
"Once you get past the lighting and walls, making them uniform, you have a big open space which becomes the gallery," she said.
That gallery will open Aug. 8 with an "exciting multimedia" show by John Sosnowsky. His video, "The Sozra Sound Project" explores the part sound plays in the creative process. The four-hour film shows artists painting on a 7-by-12-foot canvas as his music plays. The public will be able to view the canvas and hear the same sound track.
A formal grand opening will be in September. Right up to opening day, willing volunteers will be put to work, though.
"There is plenty more to do," Pierce said. "We still need people to roll up their sleeves and finish the job."