Until Saturday, Clay Weatherfield used the room he rented in the Mineral County Arts Center as a film studio.
“I’m a filmmaker,” he said. “I used it as a base of operations for everything I did. I kept my records in here, […] I kept all my equipment in here. Any time I did anything in town or out of town, I packed up and moved it and brought it back.”
His room in the former elementary school on 6th Street in Hawthorne was mostly empty on Monday. A rack of cloths made out of dark metal pipes stood in the corner. A black futon and a few minimalist grey chairs kept it company, but otherwise the room was almost empty.
Weatherfield said he got a phone call on Aug. 24 advising him to get his gear out of the building by Monday, because the center was closing its doors.
“On a practical level, I have to keep all of my stuff at my house now,” Weatherfield said.
Weatherfield said his room was mostly useful because he could spread out — one side of his room was dedicated to doing business, the other to shooting video, he said. The auditorium across the hall was also useful to him for shooting.
“It was just easier to have on my business cards,” he said. “This was my business address.”
It’s not yet clear why the arts center closed its doors, or if the occupants left voluntarily.
There are at least three conflicting accounts of why the center is being shuttered, none of which could be confirmed.
But, one theme appears in all three: lack of community support.
“As far as I’m concerned, closing the art center is a symptom of the whole problem in this town,” Weatherfield said. “The community doesn’t really support the arts around here. And as much work as we put into it, we just didn’t get the appreciation from the community, and I think it’s just a sign of the way things are going around here.
“You can’t go down any street without seeing half a dozen for sale signs on the houses, and this is just part of it, I think.”