Drawing up a second chance for the Arts Barn

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SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A non-profit was on the verge of closure due to a zoning issue. But thanks to an outpouring of support from the community, it’s here to stay.

Tucked away on Berry Road in Schuylkill Haven is the Arts Barn. The non-profit prides itself as the only gallery in the area with 150 Pennsylvania artists.

“I couldn’t imagine writing to 150 artists saying you have now nowhere to go,” Arts Barn founder Deborah Cooper said.

But the non-profit almost had to do just that due to a zoning issue in North Manheim Township. Technically it’s located in a residential-only zone.

Cooper has had some sort of business here since 1985. She never had any issues so she was completely shocked when she did get a notice of a violation of the zoning ordinance.

“I poured 12 of my, 12 full years, 24/7 into this place with my heart and soul,” Cooper said.

Not prepared to give up, the business was down to one last shot. They had to appeal to the zoning board for a variance. During that meeting, the Arts Barn was greeted with an overwhelming amount of support.

“It was amazing to have people standing in a room saying this place means so much to me,” adult education director Heather Butler said.

Not only does the Arts Barn provide a space for Pennsylvania artists to display and sell work, instructors like Butler provides classes to under-served groups like seniors and people with special needs.

“Kind of makes your heart skip a beat when it’s your passion and your life, blood and everything that you’re pouring everything into,” Butler said.

Thanks to local organizations in the arts world and people in the community who spoke out in support, the Arts Barn was granted the variance.

“It just fits here, and the thought of trying to redo all this somewhere else, it wasn’t going to work,” Cooper said.

The Arts Barn is holding a “Winter Wonderland – Star and Holiday Décor” ticket and silent auction fundraiser from November 27th through December 6th.

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