Scott Angelucci has a bold vision for Milford.
The owner of Angelucci Studios & Artists' Gallery on Park Place envisions a school that will draw people from around the country who want study a variety of trades and disciplines under the tutelage of working artists and craftspeople.
His dream isn't just a passing fancy.
He says he has the instructors and an administrator. The initial coursework is ready to launch. And he's even in talks to use the former state service center on North Church Avenue to house what he's calling the River Arts Center for Traditional and Modern Craft.
"We could be ready to open in the late summer or early fall," he said Monday. "The only thing we need is the funding for our initial costs and our first year of operating expenses. In the meantime, our goal is also to generate broad-based community support for what I think will have a tremendous positive impact on the community."
Using the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C., the Goggleworks Center for the Arts in Reading, Pa., and the North Bennett Street School in Boston as his models, Angelucci said he believes the River Arts Center will enroll 100 to 150 students in up to 10 courses, including a variety of woodworking classes, printmaking, pottery, glass, textiles, video and modern media.
Most important of all, he says, the school would focus on the business of fine art.
"A lot of schools train their students in the methods of fine art, but then don't teach them how to turn that talent in to profession," he said. "I want to provide a place where working artists teach people to develop their art into a business, from pricing their work to developing a customer base to marketing themselves."
Angelucci says his plan has the backing of Downtown Milford Inc., the Delaware Department of Economic Development and even Gov. Jack Markell.
Last month, he also received a tentative endorsement from Milford City Council to pursue a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.
However, Angelucci said his fundraising efforts have recently shifted gears.
"(Delaware Economic Development Director) Alan Levin suggested I not look into the NEA grant for now because those grant applications have to be in this month," he said. "Instead, he offered to introduce me to some other potential resources, such as the Longwood Foundation and the USDA."
He's also pursing private funding sources, such as Bayhealth, which operates Milford Memorial Hospital, and Dentsply Caulk, the local dental products manufacturer.
"I think local industry might be interested because I believe this school could have a vital impact on the city's economic landscape," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - In addition to attracting a sizeable number of students into Milford, Angelucci said the school also would bolster the city's up-and-coming arts scene.
"While Milford has done a great job over the last decade of developing an artistic community, I feel that if we don't take that next step, it will become more and more difficult to maintain that presence," he said. "Something like this is needed to reinforce in people's minds that Milford is a place they can go for great art. But it's not just about having nice things that you can add to your home. It's about building a stronger community with more economic viability."
A video depicting Angelucci's vision can be viewed at www.racmilford.blogspot.com.