by Michael TorelliHerald Staff
A mysterious fundraising dinner, window restoration and remediation work are all planned to happen this year at the future site of Ball & Socket Arts, as the co-founders and volunteers continue to raise funds for the nonprofit group.
Ball & Socket Arts co-founders and Cheshire High School alumni Kevin Daly, Jeffrey Guimond, and Ilona Somogyi purchased the former button manufacturing plant at 493 West Main St. in 2014. Since then, they have been fundraising in an effort to revitalize the vacant buildings and turn them into a world-class arts center.
On Aug. 22, Evening in White, one of the group’s large-scale fundraising efforts where approximately 300 individuals will dine together at a secret location, will be held. Volunteers Sharon Bergamo and Karin Arai have been spearheading the program and are finalizing the details of the event.
Last year, over 100 people participated in the pilot program, which was held on farmland in town. Bergamo said last year’s event was free to the public as a way to educate people about the nonprofit’s vision for Ball & Socket Arts.
“This year … I really want to raise a good amount of money for them,” stated Bergamo. “It’s a big dream and it’s going to take a lot of effort, not just from Cheshire, but from other communities.”
Tickets for the event are being sold until Aug. 8, and are $100 per person. The price of admission includes a raffle ticket, which will go toward a VIP, all-inclusive seven nights for two in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Bergamo and her family donated the prize. Additional raffle tickets — up to 600 — will be available for $25 each.
A silent auction will also be held. Donations have been received from area organizations.
“We’re going to have entertainment,” explained Bergamo. “We’re going to have some surprises during the night related to the arts.”
Sponsorship options are available, with prices ranging from $600 to $5,000.
Other fundraising efforts include the restoration of windows in the building off of Willow Street, according to Somogyi. From a total of over 60 windows, 23 have been sponsored. Work will commence on the 23 windows simultaneously as lead abatement takes place later this year, while volunteers continue to seek sponsors for the other windows.
Lori Vogler, owner of Enchanted Glassworks, will be restoring the building’s windows. Vogler said she has been involved in the Ball & Socket project for “quite a few years,” having been originally brought on to help take a look at the status of some of the lead windows in the brick building. She later sealed up existing openings to keep the elements out and buildings safe.
“Any promotion of an arts center, to me, is a wonderful goal,” reflected Vogler. “The arts, they actually bring money into communities. They bring people, culture, and everything people want to live in an area for.”
Restoring the windows will require Vogler to strip the existing paint and caulk from each unit. She will then remove the glass before sealing up any cracks in the wood and consolidate any areas where there may be rot. If the bottom of the window frame is rotted, Vogler will ask a local cabinet maker to recreate the piece.
From there, the glass will be reglazed, the frames repainted, and each window will be resealed.
“It is waterproof and it’s good to go for another 50 or 100 years,” she said. “It’s a lot better than what they’re replacing them with.”
Vogler was “thrilled” when the co-founders wanted to keep and restore the original windows. She said restoring existing pieces honors the building and the original manufacturers, engineers, and builders who constructed the site.
“It’s a continuation of a craftsmanship, and I think that’s important,” Vogler said. “I think people underestimate the value of that.”
Progress is also being made with respect to the remediation work planned on site. On July 17, the state Department of Economic Community Development approved the site plans and bid for the work, which will be covered through a $750,000 state grant. The Town Council is expected to review and vote on the bid documents before work can commence.
For more information on Ball and Socket Arts, visit www.ballandsocket.org. For tickets to the Evening in White, visit www.ballandsocket.org/eiw2019.