LCRA, City of Smithville award $25,000 grant to Lost Pines Artisans Alliance

Group will install HVAC system at historic Mary Nichols Art Center
to better serve artists, attract more community events

Nov. 28, 2023

Representatives from LCRA and the City of Smithville present a $25,000 grant to the Lost Pines Artisans Alliance for improvements to the Mary Nichols Art Center. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured from left to right, in the front row, are: Rick Arnic, LCRA Regional Affairs representative; Sharon Foerster, Smithville mayor; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; and State Rep. Stan Gerdes. Middle row, from left: Matthew L. “Matt” Arthur, LCRA Board member; Edward Balusek, city public works director; and Jose Rivera, city community engagement coordinator. Back row, from left: Jill Strube, board member and fundraising chair with LPAA and city grants administrator; Robert Tamble, city manager; Brandy Royster, LPAA president; Bonny Joplin, LPAA secretary; and Robin Lively, LPAA treasurer.

SMITHVILLE, Texas – The Lost Pines Artisans Alliance will install a new heating and air conditioning system and tint windows at the Mary Nichols Art Center, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of Smithville. The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $9,350 in matching funds from the organization and the city, will help the group in its goal of making the center an outstanding public facility in the heart of the Smithville Cultural District and enable the center to welcome more artists and events. Several local artists provide classes at the center and musicians meet there to give lessons or record. After the new HVAC system is installed, the facility will have better climate control, which will enable it to be open to the public more often. “We have been limping along with window units, which can’t really do the job in the heat of the summer,” LPAA Secretary Bonny Joplin said. “We basically have to close our doors to the public for three months just so people don’t overheat and their paintings won’t melt. That’s not good for families who want to give their kiddos great summer camp experiences.” The LPAA has a calendar of art classes and also allows other community organizations to use the building for meetings and special events. Art classes include “Sip and Paint” classes for adults, clay art classes for youth, pour-paint classes for all ages, music lessons, yarn and fabric classes, wire art classes and more. “We are all so proud of the many arts programs and projects that allow our community to be creative, from the youngest artists to people who don’t consider themselves artists, to professionals making a living through their work in the arts,” LPAA President Brandy Royster said. “Smithville has become the arts destination we had envisioned, and we have much to celebrate.” Within the past decade, the LPAA and the city have secured grants that have helped repair and renovate the center to expand its use, including replacing the roof and adding an accessible restroom, painting the exterior of the building, repairing broken windows and renovating an upstairs room to become a music studio, Royster said. The community grant is one of 45 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. The City of Smithville is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

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