An announcement Thursday afternoon at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts, Inc., of the donation of $310,000 by Robert and Barbara Hayden has propelled LCAA’s “The Next Stage” renovation project out of phase one and into phase two, several months ahead of schedule.
The Hayden’s, own Starline Brass in Sedalia, and Robert was the general manager and president of Sierra Bullets LLC, in Sedalia for 42 years. They have committed to $250,000 for the naming rights to the new art center, which will be named the Hayden Liberty Lona Theater for the Arts. Another $60,000 commitment from the family will go toward naming one of the three galleries in the center. It will be christened the Wood Dale Western Gallery after the family’s 1819 Pettis County property of the same name. The Hayden’s donation will be spread over the next three years.
One of the galleries, the Fischer Gallery, is named after Joe Fischer who launched “The Next Stage” project in December 2013 with his $100,000 commitment.
“(Joe) commissioned the architect for this and has helped get it to this point,” said Ed Watkins, project manager.
Once renovation begins Watkins and LCAA Executive Director Terri Ballad said Fischer will oversee the construction.
Watkins spoke to a crowd of approximately 40 people including former Mayor Elaine Horn, current Mayor Stephen Galliher, Pettis County Presiding Commissioner John Meehan, LCCA board members and prominent Sedalia artists and friends.
“We’re into phase two now,” Watkins said. “We thought this was going to be a two year project, it looks like its going to be a little quicker than that. Today we’re proud to announce that we have raised sufficient cash and pledges—we have now met the $520,000 goal for phase one.”
Phase one will allow the project to begin construction of the art center, a 90-foot long addition, on the west side of the building. Besides the art galleries, the center will provide much needed handicap accessibility to LCAA.
“We also have some structural issues with the theater that we are going to be able to address immediately,” Watkins said. “That would be the tuck pointing of the facility as well as roofing. So those things will be addressed in phase one.”
In phase two, which will be started immediately, they will begin renovation of the lobby area, making it into a large reception/lounge, and also build a new stage area for theater productions. The stage lighting, sound system and the fly-system of the theater that raises the curtains or painted fabric drops will also be renovated and updated.
“We will have this thing up to speed,” Watkins added.
With much applause, Watkins recognized the Haydens.
“I would like to say, and I know I’m speaking behalf of all of you,” Watkins said. “There are not finer people in the world than these people. And their commitment to Sedalia is beyond belief. I’ve had the pleasure to work with them on the ‘Trails End’ project. Dale Yelton and I say this to each other, there are not finer people in the world than the Haydens.”
Robert Hayden said he moved to Sedalia in 1990; eventually bringing the family to the area.
“We moved to Sedalia because we didn’t want to be in a large town again,” he said. “I’d had enough of the big city. So I picked Sedalia because it’s 70 miles from anywhere. Sedalia has embraced us well, it has an excellent work force. The whole community just really took us in and helped us out. We had a lot help with the state and Pettis County, everybody helped us out getting started. This is our way of showing our appreciation to the community. Thank you very much for being part of the family.”
Hayden’s son, Bobby Hayden, said he was glad to be able to “perpetuate” the arts in the Sedalia community.
“So that’s pretty neat to be a part of that,” he said. “And have the opportunity to have something as cool a venue as this. To hopefully bring (the building) back to the stature it was, is a pretty cool deal.”
“We are ahead of schedule, isn’t that thrilling,” added Ballard. “This community has pulled together so well.”