Luverne Street Music moves into Carnegie building
Luverne City Council members Tuesday approved a 10-year agreement with Luverne Street Music to lease the city-owned Carnegie Cultural Center.
The non-profit music agency that pairs private music instructors with interested students will rent the Carnegie building on North Freeman Avenue starting March 1.
The building has been closed since the first part of February while the previous tenants, the Council for the Arts and Humanities in Rock County, moved out.
CAHRC President Jerry Deuschle expressed disappointment at the end of an era for the local arts’ relationship with the Carnegie.
“I would like to thank all of the art supporters that gave their support for all these years,” Deuschle said in a Feb. 5 email to the Star Herald.
In a Feb. 22 email, he expressed doubts about the future of visual arts in the building. “Will there be some space to store the display equipment? Will there be just wall space to hang work? Will pedestals be brought in for each show?”
CAHRC terminated its lease of the Carnegie in December based on decreasing artists' needs for the building and decreasing public attendance at displays.
Funding to staff the front desk at the Carnegie was cut earlier this year, adding to the CAHRC board's difficulties in keeping up with and publicizing displays.
According to LSM Vice President Janine Papik, the new lease agreement is a “best of both worlds” arrangement for local fine arts.
"We couldn't see a better way to continue the cultural use of the building," she said.
Papik pointed out that LSM is committed to sharing the Carnegie’s main floor for visual art displays, as that space has been used in the past, and she said the group looks forward to scheduling cultural events as well as public and private events as requested.
“We are looking to forward to promoting all the arts in the community,” she said at the Feb. 23 council meeting.
Improvements to cost more than $90,000
As part of the lease agreement, the city will renovate the downstairs of the Carnegie into five music rooms to be used for lessons.
This work, to be done by Tom Nergaard, Luverne, is estimated to cost $91,000.
Among the improvements are plumbing and electrical updates that would have been necessary regardless of who’s leasing the building.
For the first six months of the lease rent is $50 per month while the city renovates the downstairs portion of the building.
During this time, musicians can use the upstairs space for music lessons.
According to the agreement finalized Tuesday, there are no plans to remodel or revamp any of the upstairs space — just refresh with some skim coating, dry wall work and painting.
LSM will utilize the existing rooms on the first floor for private lessons, children's choir and for numerous recitals open to the public.
After the six-month construction period, starting with the September payment, rent will be $300 per month for the remainder of 10-year lease.
The council noted that after 10 years, rent will have paid off half the $91,000 construction costs.
The agreement states that the rent may be renegotiated after five years.
LSM will perform fundraising activities with the goal of averaging $1,000 per year — and contributing this to the city of Luverne.
The new lease agreement will generate $3,600 in Carnegie rent to the city. This compares with $900 per year generated by the previous CAHRC lease.
The city is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the historic building, and these costs amounted to more than $30,000 in the past two years.
The city will also provide snow removal and mowing, in addition to utilities, at no added expense to LSM.
LSM will keep the building neat and clean and will carry general liability and personal property insurance.
At the Nov. 16, 2015, City Council meeting Papik and LSM President LaDonna Iveland shared their "vision" for how the former 1902 Carnegie Library would be used for music instruction.
They said the LSM program has grown from 30 students and four teachers in 2013 to 100 students and 16 teachers today.
The curriculum includes summer music camp, a children's choir, a pre-school string program and a chamber orchestra, with a puppet theater camp on the horizon.
"We're bringing people into town," Iveland said about the instructors, "and more importantly, we're providing an opportunity for students to take lessons locally instead of going out of town."
Papik said the program is also organizing a community band and choir for Luverne's 150th anniversary celebration in 2017, as well as community events in 2016. “All area interested musicians are invited to join the fun,” she said.
Luverne Street Music had been using recently renovated rehearsal rooms at Hilger Commons, the round building west of Trinity Episcopal Church.
With the growth of students and instructors, Papik and Iveland said the program needs a larger, more permanent space.
They said music lessons — in voice, piano, string, brass, woodwinds and percussion — are offered seven days a week, with the busiest time of day between 3 and 7 p.m.