Renovations are under way at the expanded Valley Arts Festival Gallery in Waitsfield. Photo: Rebecca Silbernagel

Renovations are under way at the expanded Valley Arts Festival Gallery to create a space for workshops, classes and meetings. At its annual board retreat held October 20, the Valley Arts directors unanimously approved the lease for the vacant storefront adjacent to Valley Arts’ existing gallery in Village Square Shopping Center.

Turtle Creek Builders, whose owner Ward Smyth is also a Valley Arts director, began renovations the very next day.

"It is fortunate that the Valley Arts is able to take a conservative growth step by expanding into the space next to the present location to provide more gallery space and allow for additional programs," remarked director Darryl Forrest, who was instrumental in securing the lease.

The new storefront, formerly occupied by Blue Toad Florist, will approximately double the square footage of the Festival Gallery. The additional area will be used for workshops and programming as well as for gallery exhibits. Much-needed storage cabinets and shelves will be installed and the wall between the two storefronts will be opened up to unify the space. The renovation is scheduled to be completed by mid-January 2016.

Ward and Gary
Ward Smyth of Turtle Creek Builders and VAF President Gary Eckhart(r) in the new VAF space in Waitsfield. Photo: Rebecca Silbernagel

The gallery expansion is in direct response to demand for more year-round art-related programming in the Mad River Valley, as indicated by results from a Valley Arts feasibility study and Festival of the Arts surveys.

Valley Arts directors Dotty Kyle, Vee Lynch and Mary Lou Razza have formed a programming committee and are exploring a variety of offerings, including a life drawing class series and fiber arts instruction. A photography lecture is planned for February. Other planned workshops will be offered off-site, including a summer master painting workshop. More programming details will be released in the coming weeks.

To celebrate its growth and renewal, the Valley Arts will hold an opening reception in its renovated and expanded gallery center on Sunday, January 17, 2016; time TBA. The art gallery will be closed November 14, 2015, through early January, but the Valley Arts administrative office and the office of Resort Guides will remain open.

Valley Arts supports the multiple interests in the Mad River Valley by encouraging and promoting participation in the arts. For more information or to become a member, please visit or call (802) 496-6682.