By Sarrah Peters
The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts in downtown Gadsden celebrated its 25th anniversary on January 6 with an event celebrating its past and future.
The event reviewed its history with a review of the Hardin Center’s past with Judge Jamie Sledge who was board chairman of the center in 1990 when the center opened its doors.
“When we began, we had no idea what our vision was,” said Sledge. “We listened to the community.”
Sledge went on to talk about how the Hardin Center was the beginning of a revitalization of the downtown Gadsden area, which helped downtown grow into the bustling center of activity it is today.
“It grew into the focal point of downtown,” said Sledge.
Mark Condra, the 2015 board chairman, shared the Hardin Center’s hopes to continue offering art to more people.
“We will continue to make art accesible to all members of the community,” said Condra.
Many projects are coming to fruition this year including Temple Beth Israel renovations and the opening of the Gunn Bellinger house to the public.
Condra talked about the problems facing the Hardin Center today. He said that the big challenge is making sure that the next generation of community leaders value the contributions of the Hardin Center to the community, especially since the future leaders won’t remember what it was like not to have the center. Then Condra showed a video demonstrating the ways the Hardin Center impacts the lives of future leaders.
After the video, Executive Director Bobby Welch made closing remarks and introduced the $25 for the 25th Challenge, where donors can pledge to contribute $25 dollars a month for the year, for a total of $300. The challenge was designed to be affordable for everyone.
Welch then toasted the Hardin Center, and visitors dispersed to socialize, drink champagne and eat snacks.
For more information on the Hardin Center’s activities and donation opportunities, visit culturalarts.org.