Stories of 2019: Sharon Arts Center shutters


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-02-2020 12:05 PM

After 73 years of providing a place for artists and the public to come together to learn, work, shop and appreciate fine art, the Sharon Arts Center closed in the summer of 2019.

The announcement was made in June and by the end of the summer the center in Sharon along with its Sharon Arts Center Gallery and Fine Craft Store in Peterborough were shuttered.

The New Hampshire Art Institute in Manchester, which absorbed the Sharon Arts Center in 2012, said the closure was part of its new merger with New England College in Henniker and that the underutilized former NHIA properties would be put up for sale — including the Sharon Arts Center building in Sharon, which was home to NHIA’s regional Community Education classes, and the Gallery and Fine Craft Store in Peterborough.

At the time, Dr. Tom Horgan, Executive Director of Community Relations and Public Affairs for New England College, said, “It’s a community arts center and we’re a higher education institution. Our core mission is to serve students who are seeking degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels so running a community arts center is not in line with our core mission.”

The store and gallery in Peterborough were closed for similar reasons.

“As far as I know it’s been underperforming. But more importantly, it’s a retail art gallery which, yet again, is not core to educating our students,” Horgan said.

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In 2016, NHIA announced plans for a $300,000 renovation of the gallery and store in Peterborough.”As far as I know those plans never materialized,” Horgan said back in June. “If someone wanted to run an art gallery in Depot Square that would be a great use for that building and we’d be happy to talk to them.”

Peterborough artist and ConVal art teacher Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne said of the announcement that she and her students were saddened by the news of the closings.

“The news was really devastating and really sad for us,” she said. “The Sharon Arts Center is so connected to the arts community in our region. It’s really hard to think about the absence of that.”

In recent years the Sharon Arts Center had been part of the the annual Monadnock Art Tour, allowing the tour to hold a show at the Sharon Arts Center to both showcase its 70 or so tour artists and promote the fall art studio tour.

Joe Caracappa, president of the Monadnock Art Tour, said at the news that he was saddened by the closings.

“I was sad and I know the arts community’s sad. The Sharon Arts Center was such an institution in this area. Most of the artists in the area have had an affiliation with them over the years. It’s hard to believe that it won’t be here.”

In the wake of the closing in August the arts community has rallied around the idea of continuing the mission of the Sharon Arts Center through various facilities in the area, including the makerspace in Peterborough and the Jaffrey Civic Center.

The Sharon Arts Center at 457 Route 123 in Sharon is currently listed for $1,006,250. The gallery and store located on the first floor of 30 Grove Street is listed for $1,236,250.