Board revises Jones House policies
by Anna Oakes
The Cultural Resources Board is tasked with revising policies for community use of the Jones House and expanding the scope of cultural programs and events offered at the center.
The Watauga Arts Council contracted with the town to manage the center for 26 years until this spring, when the Boone Town Council voted not to renew the contract and instead form a new Cultural Resources Board. The board will create policies for other facilities as well, including Daniel Boone Park and Horn in the West and the Rivers property off Rivers Street.
Subcommittee members Julia Rechenbach-Moomaw, Trent Margrif and Cheryl Prisco agreed that the Jones House’s role as a community center should be the top priority and that any private events should be limited to 50 people or less.
Committee members said they feel the house should be open to the public on Saturdays, which was not the case until about six months ago. Prisco recommended offering activities for families or children on Saturdays.
“There’s not a lot of kid-friendly things to do (downtown),” she said.
Margrif said he would be willing to lead 20-minute tours of the home focusing on the property’s history.
The subcommittee also agreed the Jones House should be open more during the holidays. In the past, the house closed for three weeks for holiday decorating.
Members suggested a public event inviting community members to help decorate donated Christmas trees as well as sales of homemade ornaments from local crafters.
With regard to the center’s gallery spaces, Rechenbach-Moomaw suggested that a committee be formed to review artist applications and make selections.
Subcommittee members will also recommend that current programs, including Concerts at the Jones House, Thursday night jams, music lessons and gallery exhibitions, continue as is.
The subcommittee discussed issues of liability related to serving alcohol at gallery receptions and decided that no alcohol should be served at the center until the issues can be worked out. The subcommittee plans to consult the town attorney and revisit the policy at a later date.
On Thursday, the Boone Town Council held a special meeting to give further direction to the Cultural Resources Board.
Town Manager Greg Young said he is close to finalizing job descriptions for the town’s new cultural resources director and one and a half new positions at the Jones House.
“I think the board does need staff support, and the sooner we can establish that I think the better,” said Councilman Rennie Brantz, one of two council liaisons to the Cultural Resources Board.
Frank Mohler, chairman of the Cultural Resources Board, asked when the board would be expected to make budget recommendations for the next fiscal year, and Young said he typically solicits that information in April.
Councilwoman Jamie Leigh said the fee structure for renting the Jones House for private events “needs to be adjusted so that not necessarily you’re making money but you’re not losing money and subsidizing people’s private functions.”
The subcommittee will meet again before making recommendations to the full Cultural Resources Board in September. The board will then make recommendations on the Jones House at the regular Boone Town Council meeting later that month.