St. George community steps in to save beloved nonprofit art center

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jul 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-28 09:09:45-04

ST GEORGE, Utah - The nonprofit DiFiore Art Center was close to closing this month after a water main flooded their outdoor rose garden, but directors say the overwhelming support of the community is the reason they’re still open.

Center executive director Ernie Doose said a broken pipe wasn’t a surprise in the 50-year-old house where the DiFiore Center is located, but it was an inconvenience.  The old galvanized pipes burst under the center’s rose garden on July 1, shutting off water to the center for the next two weeks.

“I came here one day and this was all flooded,” Doose said. “They cut sections out and mended it, and it kept breaking, and as a result the entire water line had to be dug up to the meter and replaced.”

Doose said classes continued, but patrons had to use the restroom down the street at the St George Social Hall. The DiFiore Center is an art gallery, dance studio and theater. Organizations who use the space say it’s the center of the local art scene.

“A lot of artists of all disciplines either use this as their home, or use this as a clearing house for what they’re doing,” said Arts Council of Washington County chairwoman Paula Bell. “It’s a vitally important facility.”

That’s why it was a striking blow to hear repair costs totaled more than $10,000. For a small non-profit, that’s money that can either make or break the bank. Doose said it prompted a very real conversation about whether to keep going or not.

“Our home equity line of credit is totally depleted trying to keep the center going, so, what do we do,” Doose said.

That’s when the community stepped up. Through several donations and a Go Fund Me page, the DiFiore Center has raised almost $9,000 in just three weeks. Another fundraiser planned for Aug. 8 aims to bring in even more. Community members say they’re glad to do what they can.

“It’s a location, or venue for so many things,” said Arts Design Arts Studio Tour founder Bobbi Wan-kier. “Would we miss it? Absolutely.”

More information on the DiFiore Center and their upcoming fundraiser can be found on their website, here: