Friday, June 24, 2005

SVCA acquires Hailey Cultural Center

For the Mountain Express

The Hailey Cultural Center, located at 314 Second Ave. South, will be expanded this summer under new ownership by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, based in Ketchum. According to Executive Director Sam Gappmayer, the SVCA will continue the programming mission of the previous Hailey Cultural Center directors.

"We have been seeking a south valley location for four years," Gappmayer said. "We feel honored to be considered for this."

The Victorian-style house, which sits on five city lots in old Hailey, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. It is the birthplace of the famous and controversial poet Ezra Pound. Construction will begin this summer on an adjacent arts classroom, which will provide a base for SVCA's after-school programs as well as other local arts events.

"We intend to carry out a vision similar to the previous owners, who used the property for small lectures and performances, book talks and classes," Gappmayer said. "This is all very new, but we plan for the house to have a more locally-centered program than we present in Ketchum."

Similar plans were made by the previous board of directors of the Hailey Cultural Center, which oversaw the restoration of the house, yet found infrequent occasions for its use as a community arts center. Under the new proprietors, Gappmayer expects the Hailey Cultural Center to be open to the public at least three days a week by the end of the summer.

The building was first designated as the birthplace of Ezra Pound by a Sun Valley Center for the Arts visiting theatre director in the 1970s. A brass plaque was placed on the front porch commemorating the renowned poet's birth and providing the enigmatic quotation "I have beaten out my exile."

The house was also the longtime home of Hailey journalist Roberta McKercher and her family.

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