CCS, the much-admired cartooning school that has turned White River Junction, VT into a comics mecca, has been awarded $255,000 in community grant money to develop the Inky Solomon Center. Named for CCS’s “legendary” founder, The Inky Solomon Center will be a modern facility aimed at helping CCS alums create and develop projects.
The grant is part of a state-wide program for housing, economic development and other community development projects — other grants were given out to Guildford ($520,000) to build affordable housing; Winooski received $380,000 for a loan fund, and so on.
The Inky Solomon Center will be built in the ground floor of the existing Old Telegraph Building (above), which will be rennovated and reinforced.
In a ceremony yesterday, Governor Shumlin announced that the Town of Hartford and The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) will be awarded a $255,000 Vermont Community Development Program Implementation Grant to launch the Inky Solomon Center, a state-of-the-art industry center designed to help CCS alumni launch projects, incubate start-up companies and create jobs.
Leveraging the world-class talent already attracted to Vermont by The Center for Cartoon Studies, the Inky Solomon Center will produce comics, graphic novels, and other visual narratives for print and digital industries. Public lectures and events will highlight collaborative projects, alumni and student work.
“So many of our alumni are already producing inspired work. I’m thrilled that with The Inky Solomon Center we can support our alumni and faculty in an even more robust way,” says CCS director, James Sturm.
CCS studio projects have included an award winning graphic biography series from Disney, a line of greeting cards for Hallmark, books with prominent comics publishers like First Second and Drawn & Quarterly, and an exhibition at The Museum of the City of New York.
The Town of Hartford collaborated with CCS to submit and present the grant application. “The Town is very excited about the Inky Solomon Center. For the past six years CCS has made its home in the village of White River Junction, bringing young talent from across the country, with the majority of these students living and working in Hartford. During this period, CCS has been an active participant in the revitalization of White River Junction, with CCS president Michelle Ollie being recognized as ‘Citizen of the Year’ in 2010. The Inky Solomon Center continues this effort by renovating the historic Old Telegraph Building and providing the resources and opportunities for CCS graduates to advance their careers in Hartford and Vermont,” said Lori Hirshfield, Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Hartford.
The project involves renovations to the ground floor of White River Junction’s historic Old Telegraph Building, a space provided in-kind by The Center for Cartoon Studies’ community partner, FairPoint Communications. “This circa-1920s building in the village was once a switching station for regional calls, and has been the Center’s studio for the past five years. The Inky Solomon Center launch will include interior and exterior renovation and rehabilitation, bringing infrastructure, utility and state-of-the-art technology into the main level,” says Mike Smith, president of FairPoint in Vermont.
The Vermont Community Development Program, a division in the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development within the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, operates the federal Community Development Block Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. VCDP provides grant funds to municipalities throughout Vermont for housing, economic development and other community development projects to benefit primarily low-to-moderate income persons.
Josh Hanford, Director of the Vermont Community Development Program, said, “The Vermont Community Development Program is excited to support the development of the Inky Solomon Center. As a leader in Vermont’s creative economy movement, The Center for Cartoon Studies will continue to harness and grow some of the industry’s most talented and creative thinkers in our very own White River Junction. The school has already had such a positive impact in the community and we are thrilled to support its growth and continued success with this new project.”