11/4/2019 2:47:00 PM Promoting business, arts and recreation for families and groups
With over 76,000 square feet of space inside and sitting on a full city block in the heart of Windom, the Business, Arts and Recreation Center (BARC) of Windom is uniquely suited to meet the needs of the community.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, BARC serves as a center hub for numerous other non-profit organizations in the community. It also works for the betterment of Windom through various grant applications to purchase equipment that can be used on or off site.
BARC also serves as a business hub for the community, with 25 renters operating within the walls of the former Area Central school building. But recently, BARC has worked to expand its offerings for families and various groups.
Work has been completed on a new recreation room and efforts to make ongoing improvements to the Jack Kelly Recreation Center continue. Manager Greg Warner stated that the mission of BARC is to develop and sustain a positive environment for arts, education, recreation and business.
"One of our visions is to ensure that everyone who comes to an event here leaves here thinking, 'That was good,' " Warner said. "Another vision is that we are a center for other nonprofits in the community, for the school and for other organizations. We utilize our space to benefit the community."
Business and nonprofits
BARC's ample space provides opportunities for businesses to rent a location in the building and make it their own.
"We have 25 renters who help us pay for the day-to-day operation of the facility," Warner said. "Every available space is being rented. We work with those renters to help them fill that space how they need. We partner with them to help them fulfill their vision."
Warner said that businesses renting from BARC also have free access to any other open space in the building, if needed, including larger conference rooms, the library or the auditorium.
An example Warner cited is Spotlight Dance, which rents a room at BARC for its studio, then is able to use the auditorium space for its recitals.
BARC also serves as a central hub for many of the other nonprofits in Windom.
"We work with about 50 nonprofits," Warner said. "We do the Coats for Kids distribution and the Back to School supply distribution here. We have a monthly food distribution for senior citizens that takes place here.
"Not everyone is fortunate to have a facility. There isn't a week that goes by where we don't have someone tell us they are grateful this building wasn't destroyed, because if it had, we wouldn't be able to offer all of the great things our community has to offer. We're very proud of that."
Preserving a place for the arts in Windom was a factor in the formation of BARC after the building was closed by the Windom Area School District.
BARC continues to host numerous yearly concerts. "We've done renovations and continue to make upgrades to our auditorium," Warner said. "The auditorium seats 670 people. We're trying to expand the usage of the auditorium to groups who want to use that space.
"Whenever someone comes in to use the auditorium, we get comments about how it is almost acoustically perfect."
The BARC stage annually hosts theatrical performances by Prairie Arts Continuum and Prairie Fire Children's Theater. More recently, the Windom Haunted Sghoul House has become an annual event that fills much of the building around Halloween.
And while much of the building itself serves as an art gallery, the library has several art selections.
The library also has a large selection of books for members of the public to use.
"A person can come and take a book whenever they want," Warner said. "They can bring them back when they're done, or they can keep them. We also have VHS cassettes, music CDs, DVDs and audio books available for loan. It's all free of charge."
BARC has long served as a recreational hub in the community, hosting a variety of events at the Jack Kelly Recreation Center.
But Warner said the BARC understands the need for children and families to be active, which is the driving force behind special events.
"We have a special open gym where, as long as everyone is welcomed, people can have the gym for two hours to just run, play games or even have a birthday party and use the kitchen area," Warner said. "We offer that at a reduced rate because we think it's important for youth to be active. People do need to schedule those special open gym times in advance.
"We have an organization of stayat- home moms in town and once a week, they bring their kids to the gym for a play date. And our outdoor playground area is more of an environmental classroom, open for use by the public when school isn't in session."
The BARC's former band room was recently remodeled into a recreation room, available for use by families and various youth groups.
"We put in a new ceiling, new lights, new windows, new paint and air conditioning," Warner said. "The room looks fantastic and we're working on plans for a grand opening, but we've already had youth groups using that space. We've had church groups using that space on Wednesday nights during the school year for their youth.
"The new rec room is a great place for a family gathering. You can fit over 50 people up there. We have a gorgeous 100-year-old oak pool table up there.
We have air hockey, foosball, ping pong, a Wii and a piano. We also have a secondary stage up there." Warner added that BARC offers free wi-fi, so people can come into the air conditioned library, enjoy a book and a cup of coffee and have access to the Internet.
BARC has added staff recently to help promote the facility and coordinate more activities.
Dwayna Paplow was hired as an administrative assistant. Kent Houppert was hired as youth and family activities and events coordinator.
Because BARC is a 501c3 nonprofit, it can write grants for equipment, which benefits the entire community.
Some of that equipment was recently used during Riverfest. BARC also serves as the administrative host for the yearly celebration.
"We listen to our community. If they come in with an idea, we try to make it work," Warner said. "Recently, there was a picnic table shortage in town if people wanted to have an event. We wrote a grant and were able to purchase 30 portable picnic tables that we can use for community events. We used them for the Riverfest picnic and the Lion's Club outdoor concert during Riverfest. We're able to have outdoor spaces on our grounds for recreational purposes because of those picnic tables.
"We are cultivating our outdoor spaces around the building as well. We are getting a 30-by-50-foot event tent and we have several portable picnic tables. You can fit an entire family in that event tent. The event tent will be used by other community partners as well."
But the facility does have needs. Fundraising drives are underway to install air conditioning in the auditorium, which will cost $150,000, and to re-roof an 8,000-square-foot section, which will cost $65,000.
BARC's membership makes those projects possible. It also allows BARC to offer various services to youth and nonprofit groups at no charge or a reduced rate.
"The reason we're able to offer as many services as we do is because of our memberships," Warner said. "People donate money to become members of BARC. That allows us put on special events or activities at reduced rates. An example is we had the military wall here for three days over Riverfest. We didn't charge for that. It was a way for us to show our respect to the military, but we were able to do that because of our membership."
To make a reservation for any BARC space, or for information on renting a room at BARC for a business or on becoming a BARC member, call (507) 831-2375. To learn more about events that have been happening at BARC, visit the website at www.barcwindom.com and click on News.
This is a paid advertisement part of the Progress Edition that ran in June of 2019