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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

Robbie

July 16th, 2009
5:17 pm

Hey “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!!”

I’m with you, I’d much rather my shoes get made by slave labor. Let the market decide everything!

I feel the same way about highways! All road should be toll roads.

And little kids that can’t afford to build their own swimming pools? Well screw them! I’m not paying for them to go swimming.

The the market drove everything, we wouldn’t have the woodruff arts center, the second largest arts center in north america. Nor would you have public parks, swimming pools, stone mountain or state parks.

Charlotte, NC decided to become the second largest banking capitol of the US. As soon as they did that, they decided to invest heavily in arts and culture to draw industry and it completely worked. As Atlanta arts funding and its major and minor institutions start dying it will be fun to hear you complain then about why you don’t have a job and why industry is moving elsewhere.

Though Charlotte, Denver and other growing cities also managed to get their act together on mass transit.

[...] 11-year-old community arts organization’s financial trouble quickly picked up headlines on blogs and discussions on listservs. It’s not debt that finally spiraled out of control, Eyedrum [...]

econ101

July 16th, 2009
4:41 pm

Atlanta is a city dependent on tax revenues derrived from convention business and tourism. The theory behind public finance for the arts is that the arts contribute to the financial welfare of the city by making it a more attractive cultural destination for tourists and conventions, and for corporations looking to relocate.
The theory simply put is that the tax revenues gained will exceed the taxpayer money spent, or not collected from non profits.
Public art often has the greatest cultural impact, but fails to meet the Bushwacker test for economic viability.
Atlanta is in he midst of a full blown arts crisis. Major galleries and performing arts organizations are disappearing, making Atlanta a less attractive cultural destination.
Many private donors are tapped out because of the economy and guys like Madoff.
Yes we have the world of Coke, the Aquarium and a bunch of strip clubs. But the longterm picture is that cities like Miami and even Nashville will be kicking our butts soon because they are commiting to culture.

earball

July 16th, 2009
4:27 pm

what a person intends to realize and actually does realize is like a mathmatical correlation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed.

mowse

July 16th, 2009
3:28 pm

Edgewood Adam

July 16th, 2009
2:37 pm

Originally that is.

Edgewood Adam

July 16th, 2009
2:35 pm

To Ugh,

I am from Alpharetta. Yes it is.

Rachel Ray

July 16th, 2009
2:27 pm

A martini would taste great right about now.

abc

July 16th, 2009
1:35 pm

Even the Fox can’t survive on ticket sales alone, even though they have among the top, if not the top ticket sales in historic venues in the nation. The Fox relies upon private donations and benefactors.

Private support is appropriate for arts groups such as Eyedrum. Certainly, taxes should never support them. Inability to attract private funding, designed as a tax write-off for the donors, indicates clearly that either the organization isn’t sufficiently managed, or that their output isn’t of sufficient value.

Economix

July 16th, 2009
1:30 pm

Why should taxes fund private entertainment, including arts or sports? People should pay for their own entertainment—very simple.