Bente Torjusen, AVA’s Executive Director, was recently interviewed by Sarwar Kashmeri in Enterprise’s Power Lunch series.!
The article begins:
Adaptively reusing an old building can have benefits both tangible and intangible. Just ask Bente Torjusen, executive director of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Several years ago, the organization purchased and renovated the 1850s former H.W. Carter & Sons overalls factory and turned it into an energy-efficient art center with studios, classrooms, and exhibition space. When we talked with Torjusen about local travel ideas for the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, we found the AVA Gallery story so interesting that we asked her to elaborate on it. Excerpts from our conversation with her are below.
Last November, during the presentation of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC) Business and Community Leadership Awards, much praise was bestowed upon AVA. As noted in our previous publication, AVA was the recipient of the “2011 Business Innovator of the Year Award”—one of four HACC awards.
Each of the awardees had sponsors who, in their eloquent speeches, succinctly summarized the specific achievements that earned their awards. AVA was deeply honored to be sponsored by longtime supporters Jane Kitchel and Peter McLaughlin of Chicago Soft. In her lovely presentation, Jane emphasized that she and her husband Peter appreciated the wealth of inclusive art programming that AVA offers. She went on to say that they were particularly impressed with “AVA’s ability and desire to reach outside of their own interests and bring value and art to unrelated organizations, populations and programs.”
While Peter was unable to be present at the festivities, Jane said that his many years of service to the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts had made him appreciate, with great pride, that AVA holds a special position among arts organizations in the state. She concluded her speech by saying that Peter believed it was AVA’s “willingness to take programmatic risks while demonstrating fiscal prudence that has allowed them to not only sustain, but to thrive during tumultuous times.”
We wish to express our gratitude to Peter and Jane for their generous support and gracious sentiments; to former AVA Chair Linda Roesch, who spoke compellingly about AVA; and to Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce for so masterfully organizing the award ceremony and producing the impressive program for the event. (This publication showcases AVA in a stunning double-page color spread.) Finally, we wish to congratulate our fellow winners: Advance Transit; Julia Griffin, Hanover’s Town Manager; and Lou’s Restaurant.
C. Stuart White, Jr., who headed Banwell Architects’ superb design team for AVA’s building renovation, has received yet another prestigious award. Last November, Stu was honored with the Sustainable Designer of the Year Award by the New Hampshire Chapter of The United States Green Building Council. In addition to being cited for his recent achievements (including AVA’s LEED Gold-certified building), Stu was also celebrated for his “lifelong commitment to innovation in the sustainable design industry.”
We are thrilled to announce that AVA Gallery and Art Center will receive the 2011 Business Innovator of the Year Award from the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC). HACC will present four awards to individuals and businesses who, in accordance with the chamber’s mission, have contributed in various ways to invigorate the economic health of the Upper Valley, while adding to its well-being.
The Business Innovator Award, to be presented during a festive ceremony at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center on November 15, 2011, is “given to an area business whose ingenuity and creativity enhanced the vitality of the community.” The award notification letter notes “how AVA has evolved into a critically important contributor to the culture, economy and lifestyle of the Upper Valley.” It also emphasizes how AVA has succeeded in bringing together “disparate people and organizations” to create “a regional art center where people of all ages and experiences can come to pursue personal interests that continue to elevate the profile of the arts in the Upper Valley.”
Doug Wise, HACC’s Leadership Awards Event Chair, points out that “all four of this year’s winners are strongly committed to sustainability and the ‘greening’ of the Upper Valley.”
Doug states, “AVA’s impact in Lebanon and beyond is awesome!”… a claim we will surely not refute!