MATTIE Arts Center sees benefits of grant money

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SWAN QUARTER — Friends of Hyde County’s Historic 1854 Courthouse has $40,000 more in the bank, thanks to a two-year grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

The foundation awarded the money to the Courthouse group to encourage and support the nonprofit organization in its focus on artistry, according to a press release.

Friends of Hyde County decided to lease the old courthouse in 2012 and convert it into a space for local and visiting artists, a location now known as the MATTIE Arts Center, according to the press release. While giving Hyde County artists a platform to showcase their work, the arts center also holds a variety of art classes, including woodworking and glass etching in its Down Draft Studio.

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes in cultivating community assets that will strengthen local economies and foster the economic well-being of all,” said Assistant Director Joy Vermillion Heinsohn in the release. “Friends of Hyde County is doing commendable work to preserve and protect a significant historic and cultural resource, and then put it to use to promote community economic development. We are proud to be a partner in helping this group achieve its vision.”

The old courthouse in Hyde County was originally built in 1837, a year after Swan Quarter was named as the county seat. The building has since undergone a few renovations and two expansions in 1892 and 1909, according to the Friends of Hyde County website.

The foundation’s Board of Trustees officially approved a statewide plan for grant money in November, the press release stated, and as the money is being funneled out, the MATTIE Arts Center is already reaping the benefits.

“We are extremely grateful to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for recognizing our work,” said Judy McLawhorn, secretary/treasurer and director of the arts center program, in the release. “With funding from this grant, we have hired our first staff member and expanded our arts center’s hours of operation, current offerings and community outreach.”

“For local emerging artists, this grant translates into increased exposure of their artwork and more opportunities for additional income through gallery sales. For emerging instructors, this grant will provide more opportunities to teach classes and workshops,” McLawhorn said.