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Eyedrum finances could force arts space to move, close

Eyedrum, a non-profit community arts space in Atlanta, faces financial trouble that could force it to move, close or drastically change the way it operates. A press release posted online Wednesday and headlined “Eyedrum May Soon Call it Quits” said:

Facing a heavy rent burden and ever-increasing operating expenses, Eyedrum’s board of
directors held an emergency meeting Sunday, July 11, to consider the survival of the longtime art and music organization.

The options are few. They include a significant decrease in rent, bringing on other Atlanta-based arts organizations to sublet part of the 6,0000-square-foot space, a move to a smaller space, or an end to the award-winning venue altogether.

The release (PDF) says the board will try to negotiate a rent reduction with its landlord later this week, and will meet to discuss it or proposals from other art organizations on July 26, if not earlier. Donations will go toward operating expenses, but the release says, “the urgency and severity of Eyedrum’s financial burden cannot be overstated. Without a hefty reduction in overhead costs, a major move — physically or in terms of the organization’s identity — is unavoidable.”

Eyedrum has been around in different Atlanta locations for more than 10 years, and offers a steadily long list of interesting visual art, music and film. It would be a blow to the community and arts entertainment scene for that to go away. You have to check out the calendar to get a sense of the variety, but here’s an example: last year, the AJC covered an exhibition there about The Great Speckled Bird, a long-ago Atlanta alternative newspaper. Last month, I wrote about how the space was used by artists and community members to create signs to post along the BeltLine.

Thursday morning, Eyedrum board member Priscilla Smith said the non-profit first asked for help about a year-and-a-half ago, and it was OK — for a while. Running a debt-free, volunteer arts organization has never been easy, she said, but as the economy worsened, fewer shows came through town, audiences got smaller and the amount of money coming in shrank even more.

“We cover all our overheard with our own income. We just can’t sustain it at the rate we’re going,” she said.

Until decisions are made, Smith said, Eyedrum will continue to host performances, and to take suggestions. Organizers are planning an art auction, too, to raise money. Nobody wants Eyedrum to close, Smith said, so they’ll look first at renegotiating the lease, then at moving from the 6,000 square foot space near the Mattress Factory Lofts.

Smith said they’ll meet today with their landlord, Braden Fellman. Check back later for updates.

45 comments Add your comment

woodie

July 16th, 2009
10:07 am

A decline is civilization is precipitated by a decline in the creative arts. It’s creativity that keeps this economy going to begin with. Take that away and you have a bleak horizon.

Jamie Gumbrecht

July 16th, 2009
10:04 am

I think the variety of perspectives on art are revealing themselves in this thread, John and Bushwacker. Of course there are those who look at it as a business on which to make money, but for many others, it’s to learn, educate or entertain, to affect the space or people in the areas where we live or, in the case of an arts space, a way to connect with the community. Eyedrum, for its part, is a volunteer operation.

john

July 16th, 2009
10:00 am

To “the Captain”, let me draw you a picture with a person playing a violin with tears in his eyes about the sad news. You’ll just have to image the sound.

demonspeed1102

July 16th, 2009
9:57 am

I would like to know what “real job” John and Bushwacker have?

the Captain

July 16th, 2009
9:54 am

Even thought I never really went to eyedrum, it’s sad to see the ignorance of the south shining here in these comments. Way to stereotype yourselves guys as a bunch of culturally ignorant, backwoods cretins.

wxwax

July 16th, 2009
9:51 am

Cultural institutions like these, no matter how small, enrich our community. They make Atlanta a better place.

I’m sorry to hear they’re in trouble. I hope they have a forgiving landlord, unlikely as that may be.

Justin

July 16th, 2009
9:46 am

Amazing place. Amazing memories. EyeDrum needs to persevere.

Bushwacker

July 16th, 2009
9:45 am

Art, if it has to be subsidized thru donations or the govt and they can’t make it on their own thru selling their “art”, then obviously not enough people care about it and its time to get a real job!!

Daniela

July 16th, 2009
9:39 am

LOL @ john! That was hilarious and I agree with you for the most part! :)

john

July 16th, 2009
9:36 am

Good. Art Sucks. Close it down. Waste of space. I can draw pictures with crayons and it is just as good as these “artist” that draw pictures as well.