Trahcing Progress at the Regional Arts Center
by DR. BECKY BLACK, VISUAL ARTS
& COMMUNITY PROGRAMS COORDINATOR, AND TIFFANI WHITEHEAD, MARKETING COORDINATOR
Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council (TRAHC) is making important progress toward our mission of growing people and community through the arts, and we could not be more excited to share our recent good news. Thanks to the help of so many in our community we strive to serve, we have reached our fundraising goal to build a much needed wheelchair accessible ramp at the Regional Arts Center.
Built in 1911, the Regional Arts Center
(RAC) structure was designed for much
different patrons and function in mind.
Many native to Texarkana remember the
RAC, with its Beaux-Arts style architecture
and charm, as the old county courthouse.
Many original elements of the courthouse still remain intact and on view to the public, such as the copper cage elevator, marble floors, and hand-painted lobby directory. It is, to many, a historical landmark, and rightfully so, representing the beauty and vibrancy of Texarkana’s early glory.
Unfortunately, the historic nature of the building has a negative impact to the members of our community with mobility limitations. For decades, the RAC was not physically accessible to all community members. Older structures constructed before the 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as the RAC, were exempted from being retrofitted with a ramp. However, in the 1980s, additional access points and a wheelchair lift were added during renovations to the RAC to improve accessibility.
The lift was a critical addition to the structure. Its inclusion in the renovations reflected TRAHC’s founding mission to serve all in the community, and it allowed TRAHC to grow our educational reach and impact in the region. But, over the 30- plus years after its installation, the lift is beginning to fail and community access to our programming at the RAC is in jeopardy. Ever responsive to community needs
and always looking forward, we at TRAHC have planned and worked for several years to progress our accessibility issues. Our hard work has paid off, and we owe such gratitude to generous members of our community who have helped us reach our fundraising goal to finally install an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp.
Not only will the new addition assist our organization in reaching new audiences previously not able to access the building, it will also create a safer work environment for staff who occupy the RAC. Regional Arts Center is much more than the office space for the TRAHC team; it is our base camp from which we proudly serve our community. Presenting year-round art exhibits, offering a beautiful space for rentals, and providing educational classes are just a few opportunities that will benefit from the easier access to the building via the ADA compliant ramp.
TRAHC expresses deep appreciation to Bowie County, Women for the Arts, Josh Morriss, Farmers Bank & Trust, Century 21 All Points Realty, Cowling Title Company, Dr. Charles Fortenberry, Robert Sanderson, Mike Gilliam, Richard and Stella Sharp, and the TRAHC staff for their donations and continued support in growing people and community through the arts.