“Uninterrupted Artwork”: the 1708 gallery becomes its own owner


1708 Gallery recently purchased its space at 319 W. Broad St. The nonprofit art gallery plans to convert the upstairs apartments into homes where artists can live and work. (Photo by Jack Jacobs)

Galerie 1708 gives new meaning to the term studio in its long-standing building in the Arts District.

The Downtown Art Gallery became the owner of 319 W. Broad St., where it has been a tenant for two decades.

Earlier this month, the nonprofit paid $ 1.1 million to purchase the three-story building it had rented from owner Tom Papa since 2001.

He plans to convert the apartments on the second and third floors of the building into artist residency space, where artists can live short-term and create art.

“We will invite artists to live and work upstairs. They will have a living space and a studio, ”said Executive Director Emily Smith. “So, it will really be time for the community to create uninterrupted works of art. “

Details of the program, such as length of residencies and the selection process, are still being worked out.

Artist residences are not entirely new territory for the 1708 gallery. On some occasions, artists exhibiting their work at the gallery have stayed with a member of gallery staff or in other accommodation.

“It was not a programmatic direction but rather a case-by-case basis,” Smith said.

Smith said the idea to purchase the property and expand the gallery’s offerings came as the gallery neared its fourth decade several years ago.

“It grew out of conversations around our 40th anniversary and we were thinking about what to do to recognize that moment,” she said.

The money for the acquisition of the property has come through an ongoing campaign to raise $ 2 million. In addition to covering the purchase of the building, the funds will go towards renovations and residency program expenses like allowances.

“We want to make sure the residences are fully funded. We want to make sure they don’t pay tuition fees and it’s just as important that they get a stipend and a material allowance so that we don’t create a barrier for artists, ”said Smith.

The gallery, named after its first location at 1708 E. Main St., was founded in 1978.

His Broad Street building was recently valued at $ 1.2 million, according to the city’s online real estate registers.


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