Hilliard Arts Council Executive Director Robin Brenneman is expected to gather today with about 50 of her closest friends to celebrate receivership of the Hilliard Civic and Cultural Arts Center, 5425 Center St.

Hilliard Arts Council Executive Director Robin Brenneman is expected to gather today with about 50 of her closest friends to celebrate receivership of the Hilliard Civic and Cultural Arts Center, 5425 Center St.

The center's public grand opening is set for Oct. 28 but Brenneman will take time today, Sept. 1, to share a moment with those who helped make her dream, and that of her late husband, Kenneth, a reality.

"It is the only regret I have, that Ken isn't here to see it," Brenneman said Aug. 29 while standing outside the Kenneth and Robin Brenneman Stage within the center.

Robin and Ken Brenneman have been known to generations of Hilliard students and the wider community as both teachers at Hilliard Davidson High School and as the lifeblood of the Hilliard Arts Council.

Robin met Kenneth in 1975 when she became a teacher at Hilliard High School where he was already on staff. They founded the Arts Council in 1976 and married in 1982.

Kenneth directed choirs at Hilliard High School until he retired in 1994 and Robin was the school's drama director until she retired in 2004.

After about an eight-year hiatus, they resurrected the Arts Council in 1989. It has performed at least three shows a year at various venues, including churches, schools and private studios.

"We dreamed about this day for many years ... for the Arts Council to have a place of its own," said Brenneman, adding that the fruition of the dream is bittersweet because her husband, while aware of its progress before his death, cannot enjoy the center's opening.

Robin Brenneman said she also will plant a tree and erect a permanent monument in her husband's honor and memory outside the center before the grand opening.

Robin Brenneman is expected to receive the keys to the 7,000-square-foot center Sept. 1, two years to the day after Kenneth Brenneman died, Sept. 1, 2014, on his 72nd birthday.

Hilliard City Council last week approved a lease agreement with the Hilliard Arts Council but much work remains before the public grand opening, Brenneman said.

"We have a lot to do to get ready for our first show and make the venue performance-ready," Brenneman said, including the installation of stage lights, sound boards and seating, just to name a few.

"We can't possibly do everything at once," she said, adding that after the Oct. 28-30 grand opening, other improvements will be made a little at a time as needed and as funding allows.

The center's opening was years in the making and several factors delayed it, including receivership of the land and construction woes, Brenneman said.

Bids for the project exceeded initial estimates by margins so great as to require revised estimates and re-bidding.

The final construction cost to renovate the center was $889,873. When coupled with additional costs of $64,300 for design, engineering and inspection, the total project cost is $954,173, according to Hilliard Service Director Butch Seidle.

City funding came from the 2015 and 2016 Capital Improvement Projects budget, Seidle said.

The center also will be used by the Hilliard Community Assistance Council, formerly known as the Hilliard Food Pantry.

Hilliard American Legion Memorial Post 614 had planned to share in the use of the site but has withdrawn interest, according to Brenneman. The American Legion has not had a permanent post since it sold its Lattimer Street property to a private childcare center in 2011.

Having a permanent home will provide the Arts Council with many benefits, Brenneman said.

"It was a problem in the past when our audiences did not know where our next performance was going to be," Brenneman said.

"This gives us a permanent home and the ability to expand our programs," which soon will include a children's chorus and children's drama club, Brenneman said.

The Arts Council also can rent the facility as a source of revenue that can be used to enhance the facility or book other professional performers, Brenneman said.

"It's a great feeling to have a place of our own," said Ed Daniel, a board member of the Arts Council who serves as its technical director.

The center's grand opening is a performance of "The Boys Next Door," a stage play that recounts the lives of four men with varying mental disabilities living in a group community in Boston.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 30.

For more information about the Hilliard Arts Council, visit hilliardartscouncil.org.

For ticketing information, visit lovalevelevents.com.

kcorvo@thisweenews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo