CitySpace lands $25k private grant toward Old Town Hall restoration

  • Easthampton Town Hall, Friday, March 8, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/9/2019 11:39:52 PM
Modified: 8/9/2019 11:39:40 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Nonprofit CitySpace has received a $25,000 grant from the John Victor Machuga Foundation toward the restoration of Old Town Hall’s vacant second floor into a community arts space. 

The money will be used to help match a $200,000 state grant awarded in June from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Facilities Fund. That state grant is being used to help match a $3 million contribution from the city Community Preservation Act Committee, which is half of the estimated total $6 million price tag for the restoration.

“We’re really excited to have this funding,” said Burns Maxey, president of CitySpace. “It really helps to chip away to that funding to get those renovations done​​​​​.”

According to CitySpace’s website, the John Victor Machuga Foundation started in 1994 after its namesake’s passing, and its mission is to provide support for education, research, the arts and health care.

Michael Tautznik, former mayor of Easthampton and treasurer of CitySpace, said the renovations will transform a formerly often-used space in Old Town Hall to a new center for the arts. According to Tautznik, the new space will be a 300- to 400-person capacity black box theater, equipped with full lighting and handicapped accessibility. 

“We’re very excited that this project is finally moving forward,” he said. “This is a significant amount of money and we’re very pleased.”

As of now, CitySpace is leasing Old Town Hall from the city — both entities entered a 44-year agreement on the building earlier this year. The first floor of the nearly 150-year-old building, which CitySpace manages, holds Easthampton City Arts, Flywheel Arts Collective and Big Red Frame.

Finding the money for the $3 million match takes time, Maxey said, and the organization has just started its fundraising campaign. 

“We’re on our way and we’ve been working pretty diligently,” she said.

She said the nonprofit’s lease with the city works as leverage when other funding sources look to donate money to the project. 

“It shows other funders that we have long-term management with the building,” she said. 

Regarding those other potential funders, both Maxey and Tautznik said they were hoping to raise money from other private grants and local donations. The space has also applied for a state Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit for $900,000, Maxey said.

“We’re looking for diverse funding sources from across the board,” she said. 

In recognition of the John Victor ​​​​​Machuga Foundation’s funding, Maxey said, the new space’s office will be named after him.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.

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