The Belmar Arts Council (BAC) is housed in the Boatworks, a vibrant, mural-covered art center created by the members from a derelict boat engine repair shop. Before it became the home of the BAC the building first was the site of Connolly Boatworks. By the 1990s SRS Marine was the resident business. Both businesses sold small boats, motors and supplies.
In a matter of months after the Borough of Belmar invited BAC to use the building, volunteers transformed it, cleaning, putting up sheetrock, and painting walls and floors. Gallery and workshop spaces were created along with an office, a small stage and storage. Grants were written and funds were secured for easels, stools, an LCD projector and screen. Over time, membership dues, donations and additional grants allowed the Belmar Arts to hire part time administrative help.
In 2010, the workshop and gallery spaces were in such demand that an expansion to the Boatworks was initiated. Funds were raised and, while modest, the nearly 500 square foot addition was completed in early 2011 and is presently being used as a classroom and storage space. Storage, always a problem with tables, chairs, easels, stools, and other necessities, occupies a third of the new addition.
On October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit Belmar and the Jersey Shore. Much of the area was flooded and without electricity for up to 12 days. BAC’s Boatworks was one of the many buildings within the Borough that was breached by flood water, but the damage was not as great as that sustained by other structures in town. The Borough decided to use the building to use it as a temporary center for the distribution of emergency relief supplies, providing residents needed supplies and helping them rebuild their lives.
Two months later the building was returned to the BAC and again the volunteers went to work. New wall board replaced that damaged by flood waters, floors were scrubbed, walls painted, equipment cleaned or replaced. On January 19, 2013 the Black and White Salon, a members-only art show, opened, the first opening since Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. The Belmar Arts Center was back in business. In 2014, several fundraisers were held to install a fully automatic glass door on the front of the Boatworks. This addition made the BAC accessible to those needing assistance.
In late 2015, “Alan the Robot”by John Hutchinson and “The Fist” by Alexandra Martin joined the “FantaSea Creatures” by Heather Bryson. Plans for a sculpture garden began in early 2017 and volunteers once again united their efforts to create a labyrinth path featuring many donated works by BAC members.
Also in 2017, the “kitchen area” was renovated to include two large showcases that were donated by Atlantic Showcases of Neptune, NJ. These lighted units now serve as the BAC Gallery Store and feature locally made fine art and crafts as well as BAC merchandise that are available for purchase year round.
Members and volunteers remain largely responsible for the maintenance and improvements at BAC – your help is always warmly welcomed!