Start with small steps, no need to wait for the big bucks

Candee Brossman found a way to re-open the Cultural Center in Woodward, OK, without a capital campaign to pay for it. 

She said “Sometimes we look at a project and get too focused far in the future. This can leave an organization “dead in the water” when it comes to capital improvements and renovations.” 

2020 hit hard for the Cultural Centre.

They had major flooring damages during a hard freeze that winter. The floor was warped and not safe for the public. Ripples, tripping hazards, and orange cones everywhere. Look at the photo – all the light colored wood is damaged. 

Sadly, the Centre was closed for almost 3 years.

The board needed a plan of action to fix these floors. Month after month it was another meeting with no resolution. It seemed logical to replace and update the flooring. What was not logical was the quotes up to $80,000! Add into the fact there are a limited number of contractors in the area, with no time to do the work. 

The space couldn’t be used and it started to look like a museum. Mysteriously, items were finding a new home in the unused space. 

Lessons learned: Meetings often slow a project up. 

A space wants to be filled. 

Then Candee became the executive director in October and asked an important question.

  “What would have a major impact in a short amount of time and not wipe out our annual budget?”

She talked with some volunteers who have the tradeskills to do some work.

One volunteer could help them “patch” the floor and he had a professional friend who could seam the carpet.  Then they would see what condition the space was in going forward. And they found volunteers to help find new homes for the items that had been collected in the space.

Lesson learned: reach out to your volunteers.

In one week they took action! The original hardwood flooring was beyond restoration, but the patches allowed them to get to a smooth and safe surface. The carpet is over 30 years old but has a great pattern to disguise any flaws or damages. They were able to replace the padding in the damaged section and paid just under $1,000 in labor to have the carpet seamed. 

The project went from a $80,000 quote to a $1,000 solution in just a week’s time.

It’s a small step and a temporary fix but it has allowed them to reopen the space immediately for rentals.

At the first re-opening celebration on December 1, during the night of Main Street’s Lighted Christmas Parade, foot traffic was calculated to be right at 500 through the Centre. In two weeks they booked 5 new events in the space. The rental fees and volunteer hours will be used for the community contribution to apply for Sponsorship and County & City funding to raise what’s needed to update the floor in the future.

Lesson learned: Jump on it, don’t wait for it to be perfect. 

A “paralysis of perfectionism” was a major hurdle in this particular situation.

Candee said, “Sometimes the answer to a problem can get pretty creative and even unpopular with Administration or Boards, but that never scares me away from solving a known issue.”

The willingness to explore forward momentum with an unknown outcome saved the Cultural Centre from stagnation and looks pretty great as one of her first completed tasks in Candee’s new role!