HUDSON – The National Guard Armory has officially been leased to the Hudson Cultural Alliance.
This comes after the Select Board approved a series of agreements Aug. 22.
The lease will allow the alliance to establish a community arts center following a lengthy process that began in 2018 when the state indicated an interest in selling the armory.
“It’s a credit to the alliance that you got to this point. It’s a credit especially since it started in COVID [and] kind of ran through COVID,” said Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea.
Cultural Alliance President Tom Desmond told the Community Advocate that the alliance picked up the keys to the armory from the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance on Aug. 28.
Desmond said that the armory is exactly what the alliance wants – a large gymnasium that can be used as a performance hall and a huge basement that could be used for practice, storage or classrooms.
Having sought the armory for years, Desmond said finally having access to the armory feels great.
“We all really felt that a performing arts center or a community arts center right in the downtown would be a big boon both to the residents of the town, to some of the surrounding communities and to the whole economy,” Desmond said.
State earmark to purchase armory
He said that a major step to reach this point came when Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) secured a $230,000 earmark in the state’s fiscal year 2022 budget for the town to purchase the armory. Eldridge also secured $50,000 for renovation work at the armory through a supplemental appropriation law.
Eldridge told the Community Advocate that the idea for the community arts center was a powerful idea envisioned by Hudson residents and artists.
“It’s so important for every community to have a place for its residents to celebrate culture and the arts,” Eldridge said. “It’s making sure everyone has access.”
Eldridge said in working-class communities like Hudson, support for music and arts may not be supported by the state. That makes sites like a community arts center even more important, he said.
The alliance has been fundraising to match a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. According to Desmond, they raised $175,000 so far.
He said the alliance is hoping to raise the remainder in the next few months through fundraising on its website at https://hudsonarmoryproject.org/.
Additionally, a portion of funds raised by the 50/50 raffle at the Celebrate Hudson event on Sept. 17 will also be given to the alliance.
“We figure this is probably anywhere from a two- to five-year process depending on how quickly we’re able to raise money to bring that building completely up to what we want,” Desmond said.