- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

FREEMAN, S.D. (AP) - A southwest South Dakota nonprofit is moving forward with plans for a $15 million arts and earth center.

Freeman Education and Research, or FEAR, is considering possible sites for the project, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan (https://bit.ly/13jE0ps ) reported. The combined arts center and greenhouse would aim to stimulate economic development using agriculture, arts and heritage. The for-profit greenhouse would help support the nonprofit arts center and would provide energy for the center.

Organizers are currently conducting a financial feasibility study with a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, board chairman John Koch said.

“We are looking financially if this all makes sense and whether we would have the needed cash flow,” he said. “The NEA grant is being used to cover expenses for planning and for our architect, Steve Luoni from the University of Arkansas.”

Koch said a visit from the National Endowment for the Arts chairwoman Jane Chu in September helped provide important national visibility for the project.

“I’m not saying the money in itself wasn’t important, but it also brought a credibility that was critical,” Koch said. “It gave us an audience, and it got us attention.”

The grant started last September and runs for a year. Koch added that the board may seek additional federal funding and has applied for other grants.

The site selection will likely be finalized by the spring. Organizers are hoping to choose a location with easy access to U.S. Highway 81 that would allow space for both the greenhouse and arts center, perhaps in the same facility, according to the project report. The greenhouse would cover a minimum of 1.25 acres, Koch said, while the arts center needs to big enough to include a 400-seat theater and a 120-seat recital hall and movie house.

Koch added that the shared energy plan will save money and provide a green environment.

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Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/


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