by Max Marbut
Forty-five artists from North Florida gathered Downtown Thursday evening for a tour of 15 potential new Off the Grid gallery and working studio locations.
Off the Grid is a partnership between the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Downtown Vision that connects local artists with Downtown property owners who have space available.
The artist and property owner negotiate a lease agreement, usually for three or six months with a month-to-month renewal after the initial term and below the market rate for the space.
“It’s kind of like a dating service,” said DVI Director of Marketing Pamela Elms.
The latest possible locations covered a range of sizes from a 10-by-14 foot studio space at Art Center II on Hogan Street to a 9,155-square-foot former sports apparel and souvenir store ar the Landing, which is already the address for three Off the Grid galleries.
Three spaces are available at the AT&T Tower, two spaces at the Atlantic Place Building on West Forsyth Street and several storefronts are on the list, including a 3,260-square-foot potential studio and gallery at 45 W. Bay St. next to Daniel James Salon. The first floor of the historic Seminole Club is also a possibility.
“Off the Grid has helped bring people Downtown and that’s what we needed. We’ve seen an increase in gallery visitors,” said Mary Atwood, vice president of the Art Center Cooperative. “It also builds community within the arts group. The more we can work together, the better off we’ll all be.”
Elms explained to the artists when she welcomed them to the tour that due to the level of interest in Off the Grid, a new artist approval application has been added to the program.
Cultural Council Deputy Director Amy Crane also commented about how the opportunity has been received by the artistic community. “This project has its own legs now and the response from the property owners has been great,” she said.
Artist Jim Draper, one of the people who helped Off the Grid grow from idea to reality, said he’s glad to see it succeeding and mentioned another impact from bringing artists Downtown.
“More people are beginning to realize what a strong economic engine the arts can be. It’s not just a feel-good thing. It’s a money thing,” he said.
Artists interested in the program can call the Cultural Coun-cil at 358-3600 for more information.
DVI Director of Marketing Pamela Elms and artist Jeremiah Douglas.
Artists Barbara Cornett and Yolanda Bosworth came from St. Augustine for the tour and were impressed by the space at the Seminole Club
Art Center II has a few small studios available for artists.
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