When the Summit Charter School found a new home last year, it left behind an empty space in the heart of the Cashiers’ Village Green, a 12.5-acre green space created with private donations in 1992.
The board of directors for the village park complex saw the space as an opportunity to create a new open-air community center — a place that could be the center of the Cashiers arts scene but also a festival venue for the larger community.
“The Village Commons is the first multi-purpose outdoor venue in Cashiers. Nothing like this was ever available before,” said Jochen Lucke, president of the Village Green board.
This week, the potential of the new space will be on full display, as 24 painters and 10 sculptors gather for a weeklong exhibition of plein air art demonstrations during Arts on the Green, one of two primary fundraisers for the new Cashiers Commons. In addition to the plein air demonstrations –– which feature artists plying their trade out in the open like Claude Monet did in Normandy –– more than 300 works of art will be available for sale.
For Lucke, the event is a chance to show the entire community the value of a space that’s been outfitted for their enjoyment.
“We really hope there will be daily visitors on the green enjoying the space and that everyone in the valley uses it,” Lucke said.
The demolition of the school buildings that occupied the Village Commons began in 2009, and the board of the Village Green began hashing out the next step.
After raising close to $100,000 from private donors in the community, the work of creating a multi-function event site that blended in with the beauty of the green as a whole began in earnest.
The Village Green complex has an 8,000 sq. ft. playground, a wetlands nature trail and a magnificent azalea garden.
Board member Dan Duckham –– who is also the architect of the new Cashiers Recreation Center –– took on the responsibility of designing an outdoor arts pavilion that could host a wide range of events.
The pavilion comes with a state of the art audio-visual tower that will allow for everything from screening outdoor movies to hosting musical performances, like the summer music series Grooving on the Green. There are already plans for yoga classes on the green during the week.
“The type of event is only limited by the imaginations of the people in the community,” Lucke said.
The Village Commons is available for private functions, and the proceeds will go back into maintaining and expanding the Green.
For more information about Arts on the Green or the new Cashiers Commons, visit www.villagegreencashiersnc.com.