Wake County

Raleigh will host second public meeting on Pullen Arts Center upgrades

Betty McKim transforms a square piece of copper into an intricate flower at the Pullen Arts Center.
Betty McKim transforms a square piece of copper into an intricate flower at the Pullen Arts Center.

City staff are continuing to gather feedback about what residents want to see in an improved Pullen Arts Center.

Raleigh will host a public meeting Tuesday to share ideas and present early options for the center. The information is based on input gathered at a public meeting in October, said project manager Jim Marapoti.

The city plans to spend $6 million on improvements to the center, which was built in the 1960s at Pullen Park near NC State. The city donated the land for recreational use, and now the Pullen Arts Center provides community space and offers classes including pottery and jewelry.

Upgrades will likely include an addition to the building, Marapoti said.

Eliza Kiser, director of the Pullen Arts Center, said arts classes have dedicated space, but it has become cramped for the number of people who drop in to practice their craft. Summer camps, which are typically full through school breaks, are also running out of room, Kiser said.

“The space can’t hold any more children,” she said. “We just need more space to catch up and grow.”

Kiser said the center would also benefit from more specialized studio space for popular programs. She thinks more multipurpose space would allow the center to offer more summer camps.

Kiser also hopes there will be a way to fit dedicated gallery space into the renovations. Students’ artwork is displayed throughout the center, but it isn’t prominent or in one place.

“There really is some impressive work that comes out of the Pullen Arts Center,” Kiser said.

Pullen Park, which also features a carousel, train and pedal boats, is a popular attraction in Raleigh. A 2002 master plan for the park is guiding the process to improve the arts center, but as the area around the park grows, residents’ needs for the park might be changing, Marapoti said.

In early surveys and during the October public meeting, residents were already looking beyond the arts center building. Some suggested bike paths, sidewalks and other trails to connect the park better with the rapidly growing area.

The arts center improvements will be funded by a $92 million parks and recreation bond voters approved in 2014. Raleigh’s plan also includes $12.5 million in upgrades at John Chavis Memorial Park in Southeast Raleigh.

Renovations at Pullen Arts Center are expected to take two years.

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh

If you go

The second public meeting to share ideas about improvements to the Pullen Arts Center will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at the Pullen Community Center, 408 Ashe Ave., Raleigh.