Amherst artisans ask for train station extension

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Response much greater than anticipated

AMHERST – Supporters of Amherst’s Train Station Artisans Gallery are asking the town to extend their trial run until the end of the year.

Artists and artisans say their temporary home in the former Amherst train station has been a huge success. They are asking the town to explore extending their four-month memorandum of understanding until the end of the year and to consider a seasonal arrangement for next year.

AMHERST – Supporters of Amherst’s Train Station Artisans Gallery are asking the town to extend their trial run until the end of the year.

Speaking to the town’s September committee-of-the-whole meeting earlier this week, artisans said the response has been much greater than they ever intended when the old Via station was transformed into a gallery in July.

“There only one word that can describe what we’ve been doing the last few months and that’s wow. It’s our motto,” John Warner said after speaking to members of council. “It’s not just from the participation of the artisans, but the support of the community, town council and Via Rail. It has been exceptional.”

The town entered into a four-month trial with the artisans in July during which an assessment would be completed as to the facility’s viability as permanent facility for artists and artisans to showcase their talents.

The town is paying Via Rail $600 a month.

“We have an opportunity to show off the artisans that we have,” he said. “We initially signed a memorandum of understanding until the end of October. We’re looking for two things: to extend that memorandum to the end of the year and second initiate a full season on an ongoing basis from May to December every year. We not only have the members we have now, but there are 15 we don’t have room for.”

Warner said the artisans would like to expand their gallery into other areas of the building that was vacated by Via Rail in October 2012 as part of budget reductions.

He said the group is willing to work with the town to find ways to extend the season, even if it means coming up with a few extra dollars themselves. The group also wants to collaborate in special events in the town next year.

“We started to late in the year to take part in the blueberry festival and other events. Next year, we’d like to be an integral part of it,” he said.

Ted Evans was confident the gallery would be a success when he, Warner and Gil Collicott came up with the concept several months ago.

“I knew the people were out there, it was just a matter of contacting them,” Evans said. “It’s been wanting to happen for years. I’m amazed at how it has went. The building fits the whole concept perfectly.”

He said he was in their last weekend working on a few things and more artists were coming to the door hoping to show what Evans said were some very interesting things.

Mayor Robert Small is pleased with the success the gallery has had.

“This was a pilot project and we wanted to see if there was interest. So far, so good, but the issue will be cost, quite frankly. We need to understand the cost and that’s why we’ve asked staff to look into it,” the mayor said.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Via Rail, Train Station Artisans Gallery

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