HIGH POINT — A local historian is seeking the city’s help with the development of a cultural arts center.
Phyllis Bridges recently presented her proposal for a 53,000-square-foot facility on Washington Street to the City Council’s Prosperity and Livability Committee.
She said Yalik’s African American Art & Cultural Center would include exhibition galleries for art, a theater for performances and a multipurpose space for meetings and other events.
“I want it to be a movement that brings people together from all backgrounds to educate them about the African American history here in High Point,” said Bridges. “This will be a tourist attraction for High Point and the catalyst for that revitalization that’s needed for that section of town.”
The project would complement redevelopment goals for Washington Street, she said, which was a center of Black business and cultural life in the era of segregation.
It would also connect with other significant Black historical and cultural sites, she said, including the nearby childhood home of jazz legend John Coltrane.
Bridges said she envisions the project as something comparable to venues like the Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture in Charlotte and the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Richmond, Virginia.
Organizers want to develop the project on an 8-acre site at Washington Street and University Parkway that consists of several parcels owned by the city and High Point Housing Authority.
Bridges said organizers are asking for the land to be donated.
“The land would be a huge jump start for this project,” she said. “This land has pretty much been sitting vacant and overgrown for decades.”
A fundraising campaign is planned and financial support from at least two donors has been pledged, she added.
“I do have two organizations that are interested in this project,” Bridges said. “One is ready to commit monetarily, but they want my organization to have ownership of the property. Once that takes place, then they’re ready to donate.”
The committee authorized staff to research the procedures for the city potentially to donate the land. Officials said the city would likely have a legal right to convey the land because the cultural arts center appears to serve a public purpose.
Council members discussed what types of conditions should possibly be attached to the donation, such as having a certain amount of money raised in advance or getting a feasibility study done for the project.
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