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Columbia Creative Factory Launches Building Campaign

The Columbia Creative Factory has begun a campaign to raise funds to purchase the building that it currently occupies at 247 Locust St., Columbia. A nonprofit organization geared toward cultivating creativity through shared arts experiences, the Columbia Creative Factory is an offshoot of the Lancaster Creative Factory and has been offering art classes and programming for children, youths, and adults since 2016.

Mychal LaVia, who facilitates workshops at the Columbia Creative Factory, said that the use of the space had been donated to the organization for the past two years, but the building went up for sale in 2018. The Creative Factory team decided to begin the process of fundraising in hopes of purchasing it as a permanent location. Otherwise, the group will need to find a new location when the building sells.

According to Andrea Campbell of the Columbia Creative Factory, the cost to purchase and make a few needed upgrades to the building will be $425,000, which means that the organization must raise $275,000 by Wednesday, May 1. "We will then be able to get a mortgage for $150,000," Campbell stated. "The income from studio rentals will cover the mortgage payments." Thus far, the organization has obtained pledges for $55,000 toward the project.

The approximately 11,000-square-foot space currently has a first-floor gallery and a community space that is utilized for programming, as well as basement storage and two levels of upstairs studio space that can be rented out to artists. Upgrades to the building will include making the space ADA-compliant and adding new ADA-compliant restrooms.

Weekly art programs for students at the Columbia Boys and Girls Club - which is conveniently located right across the street at 248 Locust St. - are offered at the Creative Factory on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Writeface, another nonprofit group that offers creative expression workshops for veterans and their family members at no charge, also meets at the site.

The Columbia Creative Factory frequently partners with the Columbia Borough School District (CBSD), Our Lady of the Angels School, and other local businesses and community groups.

Kevin Lehman, founder and director of the Lancaster Creative Factory, located at 580 S. Prince St., Lancaster, said that continuing to offer community work space and programming is a major part of the plans for the Columbia Creative Factory as the team dreams of owning its current operating space. Team members also hope to offer even more programming for adults and families in the Columbia area.

LaVia said that seeing the difference the Creative Factory has made in the community during the past two years has been exciting, and he hopes to see the positive effect continue to gain momentum going forward.

"We're really interested in creativity and what it can do for people, even as far as its healing potential," Lehman said. "People can use creativity, so wherever we can help them to do that we'd like to bring more opportunities. We've got ideas (for programming and other events), but it's really flexible and based on what the community needs."

"It's really a community space, and we really feel like we're here for the community," said Lehman, adding that the team members at the Creative Factory believe they can be a part of the spark that draws more people to Columbia for all that the borough has to offer.

To donate to the Columbia Creative Factory building campaign, interested individuals may visit https://columbiacreativefactory.org/. A short film detailing the building campaign and the organization's community efforts may also be viewed at the website, as well as information about fundraising events that are currently in the planning stages.

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