What started out as a conversation with new acquaintances at a holiday party, has blossomed into something quite wonderful. A year ago, I didn’t know any of the amazing people who would come together to formulate and nurture a new creative project called the Jester Artspace. Ken and I met Alan Baseden and his family at a mutual friends annual holiday get together, we talked about art and creative pursuits. Later that week Alan called to ask if I’d be interested in helping him and others form a non profit arts organization in north Wilmington. Of course I said yes! He explained how his idea originated, and how he had learned of an existing Resident Curator Program in New Castle County that allowed qualified renters free rent if they invested in repairs, and worked with the county to create a maintenance and renovation plan to protect historical aspects of such structures. He envisioned a community art space where people could come make art and talk about art. Under the proposal, the group – Jester Artspace – would rent the property, the Jester farm for free, with the condition that substantial improvements to the historical building are made.
The county took over the Jester property, in the 2800 block of Grubb Road, when the 26-acre parcel on which it sits was purchased in the 1970s for open space. The Baseden family have been long time residents on Grubb road, Alan’s dad Tod had rallied the community once before to save this long-vacant, pre-Civil War farmstead from becoming something more then passive parkland. Currently, the Jester house is in a state of disrepair. Much of the required investment will have to come from grants and sweat-equity from volunteers. However we have high hopes for raising the 15oK and volunteers needed in the course of five years to renovate the space. The property is significant to neighbors as a reminder of the area’s past. Cows owned by Hy-Point Dairy Farms still graze the property, and we are happy to learn that they will stay!
We now have a 501 (c)(3) non profit status, and are in the process of working with architects to design our new home which will include exhibition spaces, workspaces, learning spaces, and room for visiting artists. This project offers much potential; sitting on the head waters of the Naamans Creek, surrounded by various schools and communities, we hope to connect issues such as ecology, art, education, and history. We seek the input of the community, artists and creatives, leaders in all disciplines are invited to help us design our future. We invite you to visit our FB page and our website to learn more about our goals and timelines. Get involved, contribute time, and learn of other ways in which you can help. Most importantly, be in touch, help us spread the word and get other awesome people involved. We have “Friends of Jester Artspace get togethers frequently to keep folks informed of accomplishments, to meet new comers and to make introductions. Keep your eyes peeled for newsletters, Facebook posts and creative signs of life coming from the Jester farm as soon as we sign our lease.