Gallery, classes, work space: A unique art facility comes to Hays County

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BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — Doug DeGirolamo started Hill Country Theatre last May.

“We had a little girl who came to see the show the first weekend,” he said. “She came back and she had this Ziploc baggie just full of quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, single dollar bills and she gave that to us. She said she loved it so much.”

It’s a memory DeGirolamo says he’ll never forget.

“It was really at that moment that we knew that we were onto something special.”

But the past year has presented a recurring problem.

“We were sort of floating around to middle schools and high schools, whenever they’re stages were free. But people always had a hard time finding us, we always wanted a permanent home,” DeGirolamo says.

A new year is bringing a new home for him.

(KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

The Inspired Minds Art Center is set to open in Buda’s old City Hall by the end of the month.

“We know that there is a large community of artists in this area who are looking for other artists to form a community and get their art out there. And there’s a large community looking for art courses,” owner Sinead Whiteside says.

“So we thought that if we could bring the two together, not only could we help local artists we could also help the entire community,” Whiteside says.

She and co-owner Susan Guerra say the center is unique for the area.

“There’s also nothing like this in Hays County. There’s little studios around that offer different specialized-type courses or services but the closest thing to us is Dougherty Arts Center in Austin,” says Guerra.

The facility will have a gallery for local artists to showcase their work, open studio space for them to work in and classrooms to offer their skills to the community.

The goal of Inspired Minds Art Center is to help local artists make a living while also involving the community.

“We provide the facility and the supplies and the marketing and the teacher is the contractor who is paid a wage,” Whiteside says.

The city manager’s office is now a painting studio, billing windows now look into a children’s art room and cubicles are being turned into an art gallery.

Signs of city hall remain at the art center, like seals on doors and this notice alerting the public to city hall’s new location. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

The gutted government building is already making a difference for one artist, who now hopes to open up his new home to others.

“We want other local artists; musicians, poetry readings, stand-up comedians– if you have an idea, you have a show you want to do, come see us. We have a space for you and we want to let you use it,” DeGirolamo says.

Enrollment has already started for art classes at the Inspired Minds Art Center, which are available for all ages.

The Hill Country Theatre is also starting acting classes in a couple of weeks.

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