Letter To The Editor:

A few weeks ago, we notified the artist community about the lease expiring on our building.

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In the days that followed, we were flooded with emails, calls, texts, survey responses, and letters from our community voicing their support for Jacoby Arts Center. We are overwhelmed with gratitude, though some responses seemed to have been misinformed or misleading (whether intentional or unintentional). We would like to take this opportunity to clarify things, provide some additional details, and fill in gaps that may have led to some false assumptions.

First, Jacoby Arts Center is not being “kicked out” of the building at 627 E. Broadway. John Simmons (founder of AltonWorks and Waterfront Properties, our building lessor) has been very transparent with us for years about the plans to redevelop the building. John is a fellow art lover and our largest donor, and his support as well as the financial contributions from all our donors are the reason Jacoby Arts Center is able to continue its mission today.

Details about the redevelopment plan had been unclear, however. Throughout the pandemic, redevelopment plans naturally became delayed. When we did discuss plans for the future of the building with AltonWorks, the concepts varied wildly - plans were exciting, but ambiguous.

When the final building plans were shared with us on May 15, 2024, all of us on JAC’s board of directors were shocked. The renovations would take an estimated 18 months to complete, the future footprint of the Jacoby Arts Center was drastically reduced, and post-construction lease terms would be substantially higher. While AltonWorks generously offered us interim space rent-free during the renovations, the board of directors determined that none of the spaces would be sustainable.

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This leads to our next point of clarification. Finding another space is not our immediate next step. Our next step is re-evaluating the community's needs and finding our space in it. While many of our artist friends and other members of the community are focused on the interim space for the Jacoby Arts Center, the board of directors is taking this opportunity to plan for a longer term and more sustaining future for the organization.

We have taken the pragmatic step of creating a strategic planning committee whose sole focus is the future of the Jacoby Arts Center. The committee will complete a multi-faceted feasibility study, which includes reviewing the sustainability of our programming and operations as well as meeting with grantors, analyzing our community survey, and auditing the viability of other art
programs and services in the area. Until that committee has concluded their study and reached conclusions, we simply have no further updates to share regarding our space.
Finally, we are truly touched at the number of people who are asking how they can help.

The best way to help right now is to show up, attend programs, and get involved! There are still plenty of opportunities through the end of August. We have classes, events, volunteer, and donation opportunities posted on our website - www.jacobyartscenter.org.

Please remember that until the strategic planning committee has completed the feasibility study, we do not expect to have any updates to share beyond what’s on our website. For questions specifically related to the building at 627 E. Broadway, or the vision and plans for the Jacoby Arts & Innovation District, please contact AltonWorks.

With sincerest appreciation and optimism for our future together, Jacoby Arts Center Board of Directors.

Opinions expressed in this section are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of RiverBender.com or its affiliates. We provide a platform for community voices, but the responsibility for opinions rests with their authors.

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