Amarillo Art Institute finalizes $6.5M plans to renovate Sunset Center

VIDEO: Amarillo Art Institute finalizes $6.5M plans to renovate Sunset Center

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - After a year of development, the Amarillo Art Institute finalized their $6.5 million plans for a new facility.

AAI and Arts in the Sunset is funded by The Crouch Foundation, which was started after founder, Ann Crouch, passed in 2017.

The project uses funds from Crouch’s nearly $20 million estate to create a more sustainable building.

“The project is about $6.5 million dollars just to do the project and the remaining amount will go into the endowment, and that will pay for utilities, insurance, [and] everything else that comes with running the building,” explained Rachel Flores, executive director of AAI. “Since were going to be managing the whole facility, our plan is to really develop programs and events even stronger so that we don’t even have to use any of that endowment and actually [can] survive on our own without any help.”

Demolition will begin on the Northeast section of Sunset Center in about two weeks.

However, the project preserves as much of the building’s original structure as possible.

Being in such an old building, AAI’s said their infrastructure costs were rising.

The renovations will include changes to make the building more energy efficient and keep utility costs down.

“The facility is huge and so in order to manage it and keep it sustainable we do have to do some demolition to our property,” said Flores. “So the northeast end will come down, but we wanted to keep as much as of the footprint as possible because Sunset Center is our first indoor mall so we want to keep this historical landmark and something people remember so we didn’t want to tear the whole thing down.”

AAI says the new facility will be a community art space, offering a garden space, public gallery, a classroom for AISD students, performance stages and can be used as a wedding venue.

After a year of development, the Amarillo Art Institute finalized their $6.5 million plans for a new facility.
After a year of development, the Amarillo Art Institute finalized their $6.5 million plans for a new facility. (Source: Amarillo Art Institute)

Education and community building is AAI’s main focus.

“We have seen an increase in young students who want to do something on-going, they want to come to an after school class, they’re more advanced, they want to learn more about art they want to become an artist,” said Flores. “So our hope is through this new facility we’ll be able to offer not only opportunities for those classes but also walk students through the opportunities to have their work shown, talk about marketing their pieces, all of that stuff.”

The new facility includes a partnership with AISD to create a space for kids to work and learn after school.

“We’re going to partner with Amarillo ISD and offer a studio space for their students to come and work,” explained Rachel Flores. “We’re going to offer classroom spaces and a mentoring program so kids who are interested in art can shadow real artists.”

Working artists can also rent out studio space, allowing visitors to see them at work.

“We’ll have a studio space, so for working artists that need a space to work that will be available and well have public exhibition space,” continued Flores. “So really, we’ll be a community art center.”

The entire project is estimated to take one year.

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