Dorchester Center for the Arts celebrates 45 years

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The Dorchester Center for the Arts today….

Dorchester Center for the Arts is now celebrating its 45th year. It began operations in October 1970, first at its 120 High St. location, and now since 2008 in the former Nathan’s Furniture Store building. So much has changed over the years, and DCA has grown to become an anchor of the Cambridge Arts & Entertainment District.

The coming year will have many activities to highlight the anniversary. For now, the organization would like to recognize its history.

How It Started

It was spring of 1970 that three local artists, Shirley Brannock, John Bannon and Robert Tolley, decided that it was important to establish a center for the arts to serve the people of Dorchester County. The trio were all graduates of the Maryland Institute of Art, educators and practicing painters. The three artists launched a search for a place where a broad-based arts program could be concentrated.

Several years earlier, the County Commissioners had purchased an 18th century house at 120 High St. as part of a program to build a new county office building on Cambridge Creek. Impressed by the enthusiasm of the three artists, the county officials offered the use of three rooms in the house, provided an appropriate corporation was established. Letters to the local business community brought promises of support.

On Aug. 17, 1970, the initial meeting to organize a community arts center was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cambridge. Cambridge attorney Vernon E. Robbins was asked to draw up papers of incorporation, where were signed by the three founding artists. Committees on bylaws and on objectives were named at that time.

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… and the Dorchester Center for the Arts building at its humble beginnings.

The first official meeting of the new Arts Center was held on Oct. 5 in the meeting room of the County Commissioners. Nominees for directors and terms of service were decided. The Center chose as its first president, William J. Cotton, a Dorchester educator, who played a part in establishing the Dorchester Arts Show (now called Showcase.) Other officers were: Edward N. Evans Jr., Vice president; Mrs. Lawrence Ewell Jr., Corresponding secretary; Dr. Peter Van Huizen, recording secretary; and Mrs. Joseph  (Georgie) Feldman, treasurer. Original Board members included Arthur Kamens, Vernon Robbins, Thomas Fetherston, Mrs. Jesse Hester, Mrs. Ray W. Moore, Mrs. W. Grason (Bebee) Winterbottom III and Maurice Rimpo.

Looking Forward

DCA extends its gratitude to the original group of men and women who had a vision for the arts in Dorchester County. As the organizations looks to its future, it invites the community to share in the celebration by becoming members, supporters, donors or participants.

Editor’s note: Spectrum is the weekly column of the Dorchester Arts Center. It is written by Mickey Love, executive director.

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