The ARTery Art Center Renovation Strategy
A location specific plan for utilizing the Armory located on the corner of State and Market streets in Downtown Jacksonville:
The building, constructed in 1911, is 82,000 sq ft, with dedicated parking. It consists of a main hall, with a wrap around mezzanine on the second floor. Both these floors have a series of offices, many of which were built in the last 20 years when the facility served as the home for the City Parks and Recreation Department. There is a basement with many rooms which could serve as studio and storage spaces, but this floor had a significant flooding problem. A city engineer’s review to refurbish the facility, and mitigate the flooding problem produced an estimated cost of $9.75MM. The city’s operating cost summary shows annual operating expenses when the Armory is in full use at $40,000 per year for the facility alone.
After reviewing the Armory’s structure and current floor plan, TFC has refined the ARTery plan to incorporate physical changes needed to create a forum, providing a full spectrum of visual and performing arts programming, events, and galleries.
One crucial element of the renovation is to create a theatre area and supporting dance halls. This space will be used for an array of performances, as well as for classes on acting, music, and dance. The Artery will also provide a low cost rental performance venue for other area nonprofits. Although the stage and hall had been the primary Jacksonville performance venue in the 1950’s and early 60’s, it is not up to today’s standards. The stage needs to be extended, as well as creating a true backstage area. A budget will need to be allocated for new lighting, a sound system, and suitable seating for approximately 500. The performance area will ultimately constitute approximately half of the main hall located on the first floor.
The Artery galleries will showcase local artists year-round as well as provide venues for traveling exhibits. There will be one large, main floor gallery, as well as two mezzanine galleries. The Artery and its partners will host a rotation of shows, ranging from student exhibits, individual and small group shows for local artists, juried shows, and special events. Unless the artists choose otherwise, all artwork will be for sale, providing an opportunity for artists to make money and gain exposure, as well as generating revenue for the Artery through a small commission fee.
The plan is to have semi-portable walls to separate the space from the performance area, while also providing the ability to reconfigure the gallery space in order to accommodate a range of shows.
When the second floor is refurbished, the plan expands to create additional galleries on the mezzanine area.
Workshop and Class Space
All three groups would require workshops, classrooms and creation space. The performance arts would require practice rooms and dance studios. While both the Art League and the Art Center could need space for teaching workshops and the Art League would need shared common area studio space using the concept employed at their current Murray Hill Art Center. Classes and workshops would all be fee based to support operating expenses. However, scholarships and free public workshops would be scheduled throughout the year. These programs are in addition to structured arts programming developed for outside organizations such as Frank G Murphy and the Jewish Family and Community Services.
Examples of Year Around Public Programming:
• Drawing – Distinct Focuses on Observational, Portrait Cartooning & Illustration
• Painting – Distinct Focuses on Sumi-E, Acrylic & Gouache, Watercolor & Oil
• Printmaking – Distinct Focuses on Copperplate Etching, Drypoint, Screen & Mono
• Sculpture – Distinct Focuses on Ceramics, Stone, Assembly & Mixed Media
• Glass Blowing
• Young Artists Programs, Creative Circuit Training
• Arts in Aging Programs
Artist Studios –
The Art Center currently operates seven rental artist studios at the Hogan St. location. Operations would be relocated and expanded at the Armory. Creating visible and accessible studios would be required to support an entrance fee, since viewing artists at work is a key draw for the Torpedo Factory. Studio space would be limited until the basement refurbishing would be completed, but after that major expansion of studio and workshop space could take place. The Art League offers shared studio resources for artists who are more part-time creators. This provides these artists with a wealth of resources that would be difficult to afford for a part time artist but necessary for them to create. The business model for this is similar to a gym membership. This model can support a greater number of artists and utilize a nominal footprint on site.
Supporting Services and Office Rental Space
Another component of the vision would be to bring into the ARTery other art-centric non-profits, both to supply complementary services and to provide them subsidized office and storage space. An example was the desire for the Jewish Family and Community Services organization to bring in an art therapist and legal support for artists. Other groups like The 5 & Dime performance troupe are seeking storage area for their sets and materials in addition to office and rehearsal spaces. It was also our concept that we could offer some of our shared space and eventually basement space to other non-profits to complement the capabilities listed above.