On April 20, I notified the owner of the Warehouse building that I would close the Warehouse Art Gallery and vacate by May 31.
That night I received a clear message that I should remain open; that everything would be ok. I had come through the fear and returned to my normal attitude that if there were something I really wanted, and committed to it with faith and a knowing that all would be ok, then it would be.
On April 21, I notified the owner that I would remain open, under the arrangement noted below.
Several months before the virus, the owner informed me that she wanted to proceed with renovating the two main floors of the building, including the space that the Gallery occupies. I had known this was intended at some point. I was asked to vacate by the end of October.
Working with a core group of supporters, we considered purchasing another building in Luray, and looked at several. As an alternative, we asked the owner to consider renovating the basement of the Warehouse building first and lease to us, when renovations were complete. It is really great space for an art gallery/community hub.
That did appeal to her and she was willing to fully renovate the basement, to include heat and air, and lease to us on very favorable terms, allowing things to remain as is until the renovation is complete.
Our dilemma was that rent/utility costs for the renovated basement would be about $2000/Month more than current gallery expenses. Remembering how long it took to recover from the downturn in 2008, and the uncertainty as to length and extent of the current situation, I felt there was too much risk to remain open, even in the short term.
Our primary income producers are sales and events. We are generating almost no sales and can’t have events. I don’t believe other options would generate sufficient sales, and events are out of the question for the foreseeable future.
If you google art galleries in Virginia, you will find the Warehouse on the top 10 lists of a number of reviewers. This attests to the incredible local and regional talent that is shown. It also attests to the creativity, energy, and spirituality that you experience when you visit. The Warehouse was started with two primary motives: the joy of associating with creative people and to provide service to our community.
Now we need help.
I considered loans, grants, unemployment and other options but they are not me. Several supporters suggested I send out an appeal to the arts community. That is also not normally me. But once I made the commitment to stay open, I had to do something since I only have enough $ for a couple more months expenses. For years I have considered the Warehouse a community gallery. Not only does it show the visual arts, it is also a spiritual refuge, a gathering place for artists, writers, musicians, etc. and it hosts many community events, including the all school art show, all without fee. So, I decided the appeal is not for me as the owner but for the “Community Art Gallery”.
This appeal is intended for three audiences:
Artists showing at the WH – I am requesting $25 per month minimum show fee from all artists, with just a few exceptions. For artists in a position to contribute $100/mo., there would only be a 5% commission to cover credit/admin fees. I know that some artists do not have sufficient presence to justify a monthly fee. I know the fee would be a hardship for some. I would ask that you discuss options with me. Over the years as the Gallery started breaking even, I backed off the fee for those artists who had stuck with me since we first opened. I now need your help once again.
Wednesday Night Live Attendees – there will be a $10 per month fee or $5 at the door, to cover rent, heat, supplies, etc.
Supporters of the Arts – I am requesting periodic support that works for you. That could be an art purchase which also supports the artist. It could be a monthly (or on some other basis) monetary contribution. Stocks, bonds, and real estate would also be acceptable (just kidding and you thought I did not have a sense of humor).
I am also very sensitive, and in fact have tears in my eyes as I write this. This is the only appeal that I will make. It is not my nature to ask for help and I only do so on behalf of the “Community Gallery”. Once the Warehouse has returned to break even, I will let you know. Also, while I choose to remain private, the Gallery will succeed to a core group that is working with me, so that the Warehouse will perpetuate. This core group may choose to also stay private or may decide to operate as a 501-C-3.
Please forward to others you know who support the arts and may be in a position to do so.
I am being as open and sincere as I can be and thank everyone for your support and know that the Warehouse Art Gallery and arts community will continue to be a tremendous asset to our community and to our individual and collective well-being.
Warehouse Art Gallery
15 Campbell Street
Luray, Va. 22835