My Life at the MACC
MACC Celebrates Seven Years with Director Barb Storm
(Edited February, 2017)
By Michelle Michaud
On any given day, Barb Storm, the Mountain Arts Community Center director, might be taking out the trash, hanging pictures, greeting teachers and students, or meeting with a boy scout. What you will never see or hear her do is complain. That’s because Barb Storm is a class act.
Just seven years ago, Storm began her time as an employee of the Town of Signal Mountain. But as far as employees go, her job, much like the head of public works, or fire and police, is vitally important to the health of our community.
Because, while fire and police and public works are expected from cities and towns where taxes are collected, a comprehensive arts center is not – which makes Signal Mountain very attractive to outsiders.
"Extraordinary communities understand the value of the arts,” said Dick Gee, former Mayor. “Signal Mountain is fortunate to have Barb Storm. Her vision and leadership has grown the MACC into a thriving arts entertainment community center enjoyed by citizens of all ages,” said Mayor Gee.
Seven years ago, when Barb took the helm of the MACC, it was a budding community center with precious little programming -- five music teachers, drama and art classes, housed in a leaky and crumbling historic grammar school. “Everything from the raccoons and the toxic waste in the attic, to re-roofing so that we don’t have to use buckets to catch the rain drips as they come through, the eves, repairing them so we don’t have critters come through anymore, to the cosmetic and painting and making it so you don’t have plaster falling all over the place and see through walls had to be accomplished to make the building more user friendly and safe.” said Storm.
And even though she wasn’t hired to do maintenance and repair, “that’s been 50% of my time at the MACC. And those improvements make a huge difference,” she said.
“Most people don’t care about the building improvements and such, it’s a building, you want to make it safe, but the building getting better has made it more user-friendly, and that people want to be here because it is comfortable and cool, and it smells good in the winter, it feels good.”
“We have come a long way,” she says, and everything she’s done in her past has made it possible to make the MACC what it is today. “The fact that I got my bachelors and my masters degree in music education, I taught for 30 years, I’ve been head of music departments and bands, head of the fine arts department for 9 years at the Atlanta International School, and that has also lead me to understand and grow an entire fine arts department, not just theatre, and not just fixing up an old building, but how to develop a good fine arts center.”
One of the first things she did as MACC director was to interview 10 contractors and architects who specialized in historic restoration. She settled on Dave Hammel from Raines Brothers and Bob Franklin from Franklin Architects, “I decided on the two most like-minded to share information. We came together to devise a long range plan, we prioritized things that needed to be done in the building then we budgeted.”
Barb says she still uses those plans today, “I couldn’t have done it without the staff that I have, the MACC board, Friends of the MACC, the Signal Mountain Playhouse co-owning everything in the auditorium, and the volunteers, Colleen Laliberte, Val Gibson, Lolly Durant, Lions Club and Boy Scouts. Everybody has helped so much.”
With so many improvements to the building, creative programming, and more teachers, it’s a wonder if Barb thinks she has finally reached her stride, “Yes, I’m very pleased, it is easy to have forgotten how far we’ve come. We’ve accomplished a lot in seven years. (For a list of all accomplishments, log on to SignalMACC.org under ‘about’ then ‘MACC Blog.’
MACC now has cooking classes, fitness classes, computer programming, a fairy garden, pottery and ceramics, dance, STEAM Classes and music classes like Singer/Songwriter, and private lessons for almost every instrument, including piano accordion and hammered dulcimer. MACC even has it’s own Art Gallery called Gallery5@MACC.
“Val Gibson is a fantastic art teacher and she has brought in people to do workshops, June Teuscher for landscapes, and Michael Field for portrait painting. Colleen Laliberte has expanded her program to include the Tennessee Center for Puppetry Arts,” said Storm. "Lolly Durant is a Master Potter, and she always enjoys sharing her talent and creativity!"
We’re progressing really well; the only thing hindering us at this point is time and money. Staff time, touch time, and the funding to be able to do what we need to do. “The best is yet to come,” said former Mayor Gee.