Rationale for the Project

Other sections of our website summarize and highlight the mission, values, history, and activities of Klinkhart Hall Arts Center. However, we are often called on to provide more detailed rationale when we are writing grants or reporting activities to funding agencies. We believe these efforts are also an important way to show our friends and supporters why we are investing time and resources — theirs & ours — in this project and what difference it can make in our community. Here are a few recent extracts.


scope of project

The historic Klinkhart Hall building (circa 1885) sits in the heart of the village of Sharon Springs historic district and has been vacant for over 20 years. In order to serve as the permanent home for the not-for-profit Klinkhart Hall Arts Center (KHAC) and its already thriving arts and cultural programming, complete rehabilitation of the building is required. Based on estimates provided to the architect by construction cost consultant Danda, Inc, the entire project will require $5-6 million to complete.

A phased approach has been adopted as the most effective means to complete the project. Since Sharon Springs is an economically disadvantaged area with limited potential for local fundraising, a phased approach will allow KHAC to make use of available government, corporate and foundation support to the best advantage, and it will allow a high degree of flexibility to address needs as funding becomes available.

This document describes Phase 1 of the project, which has a budget of $1.1 million. Phase 1 was the subject of successful 2018 grant applications to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and Empire State Development (ESD) resulting in $720,000 in grant awards ($500,000 OPRHP and $220,000 ESD). These grants represent 65% of the total Phase 1 budget. Of the remaining $380,000 in the budget, approximately $270,000 has been raised to date (05-31-2020).

A Capital Campaign Committee, comprised of committed donors, business and community leaders has been established to help guide the organization through the fundraising process for all phases of the project. Through a combination of individual donations, solicitation of selected potential donors, and planning of campaign fundraising events, the Committee will help ensure its success. Additional foundation and corporate grant opportunities have been identified and applications are underway.

Phase 1 Overview

Phase 1 of the Klinkhart Hall Stabilization & Rehabilitation Project will fully remediate the highest priority structural deficiencies and barriers to use of the building that were identified in two separate studies funded by the Preservation League of New York State (2016 and 2017) and conducted by the preservation architecture firm Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation LLP. These findings were confirmed by a Phase I Preliminary Feasibility Report prepared by Lamont Engineers, Planners and Facilities Operations (2018).

The Phase 1 project consists of the following components:


Subsequent phases 2 and 3 of the project are not described in this report; they will include full exterior restoration, elevator access to the second floor, and renovation of the 1st floor, former “Smalley’s Movie Theatre” (1926 -1950s) to become a state-of-the-art facility for theatrical and other performances.

Architectural and engineering work for phases 2 and 3 are already well advanced. This is necessary since the “big picture” is required for State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) review and approval before phase 1 begins. As with Phase 1, funding for this later work is anticipated to be a combination of state, corporate, foundation, and individual donations. In addition, KHAC is investigating the Federal Historic Tax Credit incentive program as a source of funding for these later phases of the project.


The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVERDC) has identified culture and tourism as a critical priority for the region in its strategic plan, noting specifically that “the tourism industry is a key source of job creation and small business development.” Located within easy day travel from the Capital District and “Leatherstocking” region of Cooperstown and the greater Mohawk Valley, Sharon Springs is ideally located to attract tourists from across the region. Recent cultural programming by KHAC (Shakespeare in the Park, Sharon Springs Poetry Festival, Conversations/Lecture Series, music events, etc.) has drawn audiences from across the region that have resulted in increased overnight stays at local hotels, increased traffic in local retail businesses and increased numbers of diners at local restaurants during the events.

Klinkhart Hall is located in the heart of the village historic district and is surrounded by historic structures that have already been restored and re-purposed as vital retail businesses. On this “downtown” section of Main Street, the imposing two-story brick Klinkhart Hall is the only building that is now vacant and unused. The Village Comprehensive Plan, as well as the MVREDC Strategic Plan note the necessity of capitalizing on historic resources and improving the aesthetic quality of the “streetscape” in order to encourage further investment. Likewise, the MVREDC Strategic Plan notes the importance of “adaptive reuse of underutilized buildings” in addressing the lack of vibrancy and economic appeal of neglected downtowns and central business districts.

A detailed 2019 report from the National Governor’s Association, “Rural Prosperity through the Arts and Creative Sector,” confirms all of these findings on the economic benefits of arts initiatives. This report also finds that, because creative sector activities are scalable and adaptable, communities are able to take small steps initially, expanding their arts and cultural investments with time, and still realize significant impacts for rural economic development.

For all of these reasons, by creating a year-round venue for local, regional and national entertainment and performance, as well as for public and civic events, the restoration and rehabilitation of historic Klinkhart Hall as a center for the arts can be expected to make a significant contribution to the ongoing revitalization of the village of Sharon Springs and the surrounding region.

cultural & Community Impact

The economic impacts of arts initiatives are often the first and easiest benefits to be described when embarking on this type of project. However, comprehensive research shows compelling evidence that other benefits derived from such initiatives in rural areas may, ultimately, have the greatest effect.

Specifically, studies find that historic preservation and reclamation of abandoned spaces for the creative sector consistently improve the quality of life in rural communities. Quantitative and qualitative research data demonstrates that arts initiatives in rural communities strengthen the collective sense of identity, increase social and civic engagement, build resilience, improve regional economic and social networks, and promote rural sustainability, empowerment, and well-being. Rural arts initiatives also expose community members to a range of new experiences, which encourages open-mindedness and a willingness to consider alternative perspectives.

The general public concurs with these research findings: a 2018 survey conducted by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts confirms that the public at large believes that the arts are crucial to the identity and unity of communities. Specifically:

Significantly, these quality-of-life and well-being benefits are not limited to the wealthy or educated, nor to any racial, ethnic or age group; they cut across all demographics.

Community development strategies that integrate the arts and culture have also been shown to encourage social cohesion, help foster a sense of ownership, belonging, and pride within a community that can set it apart from others, and helps preserve and enhance the authentic character of the place.

This is why Klinkhart Hall Arts Center believes that arts and culture are vital to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies; this is why we are committed to bringing the arts to Sharon Springs and to our region, and this is why we are committed to giving them a permanent home in the historic Klinkhart Hall.

Target audience

Sharon Springs is a rural, under-served, and economically disadvantaged area. The latest available US Census data report:

Additional data:

While the area has very limited racial diversity, KHAC actively seeks out artists from locally underrepresented racial, ethnic, gender identity, and other groups as a way of encouraging local citizens to engage with issues of diversity. This approach has been both welcomed and embraced by the participating schools and adult populations.

Since the 1990s, Sharon Springs has seen a significant increase in its full-time residential LGBTQ+ population. These individuals and their families have taken an active role in the Arts Center, local government, and the community as a whole.

Despite the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown, KHAC programming has continued to engage young people in multiple area schools thru Zoom workshops, reached elder communities with virtual performances, attracted online workshop and reading participants from across the country, and continued to bring people together across ethnic, economic, gender and gender identity, social, and partisan boundaries.

As previously stated, it is clear from these research data that, as a permanent home for the arts in Sharon Springs, a revitalized and restored Klinkhart Hall has enormous potential to contribute to the economic, cultural, and social well-being of the local community and the surrounding region.


The following sources were used to compile these impact statements:

Arts Economic Prosperity 5: Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Industry, Americans for the Arts, (2019), https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-5. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Americans Speak Out About The Arts in 2018: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes About the Arts in America, Americans for the Arts (2018), https://www.americansforthearts.org/node/101584. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Arts Data Profile: Rural Arts, Design, and Innovation, National Endowment for the Arts, (2017), https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/Rural%20Arts%2011-17.pdf

Research Brief #1: Rural versus Urban Arts‐and‐Cultural Organizations: Some Defining Characteristics; and Research Brief #2: Exploring Rural Communities by the Presence of Performing Arts Organizations. (Also availabe at: https://klinkharthall.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Brief-1-RuralVsUrbanOrganizationsAccess.pdf and https://klinkharthall.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Brief-2-RuralCommunitiesPerformingArtsAccess.pdf)

Balfour, B., et al., “The creative fire: An interactional framework for rural arts-based development,” Journal of Rural Studies (2016). https://nasaa-arts.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/The-Creative-Fire_Journal-of-Rural-Studies_2016.pdf Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Klinkhart Hall Building Condition Report(2016), Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson, Architecture & Preservation, LLP, Albany, NY.https://klinkharthall.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2016-KHAC-Building-Condition-Survey-Report.pdf.

Klinkhart Hall Feasibility Study/Cost Estimates(2017), Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson, Architecture & Preservation, LLP, Albany NY.https://klinkharthall.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Feasibility-Study-with-cost-estimates-drawings.pdf

Klinkhart Hall Renovations: Preliminary Report(2018), Lamont Engineers, Cobleskill, NY. https://klinkharthall.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lamont-Preliminary-Report.pdf. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Overton, P., in “Developing and Revitalizing Rural Communities through Arts and Creativity”(2009) pp. 113-156; free pdf download at https://www.academia.edu/19658286/Developing_and_Revitalizing_Rural_Communities_through_Arts_and_Culture. Accessed 274 Aug. 2021.

Rural Prosperity Through the Arts and Culture: A Rural Action Guide for Governors & States, National Governor’s Association, (2019), https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/NGA_RuralArtsReport.pdf. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Sparking Transformation: Mohawk Valley REDC,Upstate Revitalization Investment Prospectus, (2015), https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/2015-mohawk-valley-uri-plan.pdf. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

State of the Region: Mohawk Valley 2018 Progress Report, (2018), https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2018-10/MohawkValley2018ProgressReport.pdf. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

State of the Region: Mohawk Valley 2019 Progress Report, (2019), https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/sites/default/files/2019-11/MVREDCProgressReportwithDRI.pdf. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

U.S. Census Bureau (2019). American Community Survey 5-year estimates. Retrieved from Census Reporter Profile page for Sharon Springs, NY http://censusreporter.org/profiles/16000US3666663-sharon-springs-ny/ Accessed 27 Aug. 2021.

U.S. Census Bureau (2019) QuickFacts: Schoharie County, New York. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/schohariecountynewyork. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

US Census Data: Schoharie County, Arts and Entertainment. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=Schoharie%20County,%20arts%20and%20entertainment&g=0500000US36095&n=71%3A711%3AN0300.71&tid=ECNBASIC2017.EC1771BASIC&hidePreview=false. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

USDA Economic Research Service – Creative Class County Codes. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/creative-class-county-codes.aspx. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Additional Data Sources

“Quantitative Data Sources for Understanding Rural Creative Economies.” National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), https://nasaa-arts.org/nasaa_research/quantitative-data-sources-for-understanding-rural-creative-economies/. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.