VCCA and Sweet Briar College Enter Long-Range Planning Process

After decades of informal discussions, VCCA and Sweet Briar College have decided to study the various possibilities of a permanent home for VCCA.
VCCA has been leasing Mt. San Angelo from Sweet Briar since 1977. Both institutions have agreed to actively pursue a long-term solution to the current annual lease renewals. The timing is mutually beneficial in that VCCA is embarking on a new Strategic Plan, while Sweet Briar is implementing its Plan for Sustainable Excellence.
The opportunities to explore include, but are not limited to, the following options:
  • VCCA purchases the Mt. San Angelo property and remains there
  • VCCA and SBC enter into a lease-to-purchase agreement for the Mt. San Angelo property and VCCA remains there
  • VCCA moves to the Sweet Briar College campus
  • VCCA moves to another non-SBC location
This is a long-range planning process, one that will take place over the course of several years. VCCA Fellows, friends and supporters will be invited to share their point of view to help inform the process.
After gathering detailed information on each option, the VCCA Strategic Planning Committee will recommend to the Board of Directors an option to pursue. Subsequent actions will be based on the option selected.
VCCA expects the current lease to remain in effect until a final decision is made and achieved.
For 35 years, the histories of Sweet Briar College and VCCA have been richly intertwined. This process will be a continuation of the teamwork we have always enjoyed.

We plan to establish a blog to keep you informed about this process entitled, Securing a Permanent Space for VCCA. Until then, please feel free to leave comments on this blog entry.

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Photo of VCCA entrance (above) by Bernard Handzel, photographer Fellow, NY


Anonymous said…
The current campus is beautiful but could actually be bigger, with more opportunity for quiet contemplative walks directly out from the front door of a studio. Wherever you decide, though, the location should be as isolated as VCCA feels now - not in the middle of a campus where students will be traipsing past or where residents can hear student noise. That's my two cents.
VCCA would risk losing its identity if merged with a college campus, even one as nice as SBC's.The sign at the entrance -- "You're leaving the real world" -- says it all. Don't move the sign and don't move VCCA to SBC's campus.
becky s said…
totally and completely agree with:
"the location should be as isolated as VCCA feels now - not in the middle of a campus where students will be traipsing past or where residents can hear student noise."
I think it would hardly meet my definition of "residency" --and what I'm seeking when I go do one-- if VCCA plunked itself in the midst of a college campus.
And I would really miss the horses if they ever end up not being a part of the environment.
I appreciate the labor and negotiations that go into this endeavor, and certainly appreciate the opportunity for input.
Jane Kuhn said…
Please don't move to the would destroy what makes VCCA so unique...the peace and tranquility, nature...all of this is priceless and precious...I agree, the sign "You're leaving the real world" is wonderful and being able to relax, breathe deeply, and savor the energy of Mt. San Angelo is far too rare...

Piri Halasz said…
I'm yet another person who loves the peace & the way that creative juices are stimulated by the present location, and think the VCCA would really lose an enormous amount by relocating it in a college campus.
silvia tennenbaum said…
I don't know what the financial cost of buying the current VCCA property from Sweet Briar are, and whether this is a real option. In any case, I would consider a move to SBC wrong - in every possible way. Much as I like the college, pool library lake, magnolias and all, it is still a school for young well-born women (mostly) and they would not create a good mix for the VCCA fellows. There is almost nothing I'd change there (only that I would like to resurrect the great beech tree)especially the peace, the solitude, the eveings by the fire, the incredible studios!
Silvia Tennenbaum
Sam McMillan said…
Hire a really smart real estate consultant who can figure out a deal in which VCCA buys its land and buildings from Sweetbriar for $1.00 in exchange for a tax break = to the "market price" valuation of the land. Win win.
Ellis Oyekola said…
This is a very good arrangement,Long live VCCA,Long live SBC
Kelly Cherry said…
I think my first comment didn't go through. I am not totally opposed to a move to Sweet Briar--it would be convenient for those of us whose ability to walk is limited--but I too wonder how much distraction the college would pose. And some of us are rather glad to be, when at VCCA, away from students, given that we see so many of them elsewhere. Some more information about where we'd be put up at SB and about noise on the campus would be helpful. Meanwhile, of course, I am deeply attached to our current location, and especially the boxwood.
lee renninger said…
Please don't move the campus. One of the great qualities of a VCCA residency is its location--the countryside, cows, horses, peace and quiet, etc.. It's wonderful to be able to visit the Sweet Briar campus--"visit" being the key word here--but I really doubt any of us would want to have the residency there. Yikes!
Beth Ike said…
another vote for staying put. i am sure that i am not alone when i say how much the SBC students and alums appreciate the arrangement and would like VCCA to remain where it is. as long as the good relationship remains between the two organizations, either a sale of the property to VCCA, or a continuation of the lease would be great. i like Sam McMillan's idea above . . . and will be happy to help lobby the college if need be. long live VCCA!
Just to take the contrary point of view..which off the top of my head seems an IDEA to me ( although I understand all the other votes for staying across the street ) ,,I loved working in the print room at Sweet Briar and offering a three hour monotype course in return. I wish VCCA had a press,,,and maybe it does by now. So this was very important to me...but I also liked the interaction with the students and a feeling that I was giving something to the community there...
So I could see a way for the Art Colony to be on campus,,,,maybe not right in the middle ...but There I'd like, at any rate , to know more about this plan..
Anonymous said…
Please leave VCCA where it is in glorious self-contained isolation. The desire for interaction with students and use of facilities could be solved with a more frequent shuttle service.
Eventually, it would be nice to have walking path options.
anne.gregory-bepler said…
I have always loved the unique setting of the VCCA grounds, barns and farmland. If at all possible, please keep the VCCA in its Mt. San Angelo location. It captures new and old, rural life and current culture in a poignant, contemplative safe haven.
Anne Gregory-Bepler
elizabeth howard said…
I hope the future VCCA-Sweet Briar connection will be of increasing strength and mutual benefit. I vote for the VCCA staying at its present location while exploring increased cross-pollination with the College. Fellows who use the College facilities and find creativity in its surroundings, might agree to limited student visits, visits that will surely stimulate students and help them more fully respect and understand the creative process. Claiming the VCCA as its own will only enhance Sweet Briar's standing, a plus I see as a SBC and VCCA alumnae. Time given by VCCA summer residents could draw off-season attention to the College and further interest in its own arts programs. Hopefully VCCA residents will also be rewarded by showing and sharing their work to the larger Sweet Briar college and alumnae community.

Elizabeth Howard
Starr Review said…
Yes, a college campus is not the place for an artistic retreat. Yet as difficult as it is to imagine change in a place we are attached to, I'd be interested in imagining VCCA on a new plot of ground if it's thought that a relocation would have the sort of financial benefits that insure the colony's stability and endurance. Of course it would be rural, beautiful, and serene: We can trust that those concerned know the mission. Is there a viable alternative site? Anything specific in mind? Has anyone, any institution spoken of a place, or is this a bubble in a pipe dream?

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