Board chair Tom Hayes confirmed to Xpress that one of the council’s two downtown buildings is under contract. The council owns two buildings, prime real estate situated on Biltmore Avenue, just a few doors down from Posana Cafe and a few doors up from Mast General Store. The 11 Biltmore building houses the council’s 1,400 gallery space, where hundreds of public art shows have been held since 2004. The AAAC will keep the 13 Biltmore Ave. building, which the council rents to Sunset Falls, and where its offices are located.
Here’s the full text of the arts council’s announcement, which came today:
“As some of you know through firsthand experience or from reading articles in the Mountain Xpress, the Arts Council has been working hard to gain financial solvency for the last year or so.
For those of you who operate galleries, you can appreciate that the Council has been subsidizing our gallery since it opened in 2004. Our costs to operate the gallery over the last couple of years have been about $4,000 per month. This means that almost $290,000 has been spent in staffing, utilities and overhead over the last six years just to keep these doors open. Taking into account our 30 percent commission charge on sold pieces, we would have had to sell about $13,500 each month in order for us to ‘break even’. Clearly, we haven’t done that by a long shot.
Since we have maintained the gallery despite the inability to break even, the difference in operating costs has come from our cash balances on hand every month for the past six years. We can no longer afford to operate in this way, and so have decided to sell the building that houses our gallery space. We will continue to own the building at #13 Biltmore.
Over the last decade the art community in Asheville has matured and expanded to include organizations of visual artists, performance artists and a wide variety of musicians. The number of art galleries downtown has greatly expanded in that time, and the Council feels the need to re-vision and re-focus its priorities to make sure we know where we fit in the community.
We know that providing gallery exhibit space for new and emerging artists is a service we’ve provided that is unique and extremely valuable to our art community. Please understand that this decision to close our gallery has not been easy for us, as we all feel that this space has helped define the Arts Council in recent years. Our plan is to develop creative ways to help new and emerging artists now and into the future even without our own gallery space.
We have appreciated working with you in the gallery since its inception. The artists of Asheville never fail to impress and surprise, and as we undergo this transition we welcome your continued support and thank you for what you have generously offered us over the years. The sale of our building will hopefully herald better financial times ahead for the Arts Council. Please feel free to send comments and suggestions to: theboard@AshevilleArts.com.”