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Group plans to renovate Harlan building into cultural arts center

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT) - An old building in Harlan could soon have a new life and purpose.

The Harlan City Council has agreed to sign a lease for Harlan 20/20 to turn the old Modern Electric building into a cultural arts center.

"It's been a staple of our community for almost over a hundred years," said Brandon Pennington, Harlan Tourism Director.

The group Harlan 20/20 in conjunction with the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College plans to turn the building into a cultural arts center to showcase art, drama, needlework, quilting and other art forms

"It's told a story over the last 100 years and now it's our turn to bring our stories to the building and have our community tell our own story," said Pennington.

They are working with some universities to offer different classes in the building in the summer.

"We're trying to bring more traffic to the downtown area and I think we're in a time where the arts are very important to our community and to the world. I think we'll have a good turnout," Pennington said.

The city of Harlan has agreed to sign the lease, but the city is not financially responsible for the building. Pennington says Harlan 20/20 has raised thousands of dollars to help pay for the renovations to the building and the lease.

They believe this will help downtown.

"Want to bring something to our downtown and bring vibrancy back to our downtown and really take our downtown back," Pennington said.

Renovation work is starting in a few weeks.

They hope to have the cultural arts center open later this summer.

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