photo by Jon Zellweger
The move means a few things for this area. The VAE took over leadership of SPARKcon last year and therefore the arts festival will now have a new headquarters on a different side of town. While most of the festival's events will continue to be centered around Fayetteville Street, we can see a lot more of it also happening in the Warehouse District. When we asked VAE Executive Director Sarah Powers about this she said that "the Warehouse district could host more events in the future and having adequate space will allow VAE to host more SPARKcon programming during the event and throughout the year." This could be huge to the revitalization of this neighborhood.
This will be a great move for the VAE for multiple reasons, the most of which are location and space. The new space is around 4,000 sq/ft which is more than three times the space of the current location. “The move will double the size of our Exchange Gallery and main gallery and allow VAE to add a new exhibition space called ’The Cube’ The Cube will allow for a year-round schedule of exhibitions and an expanded opportunity for artists who work in alternative mediums. Being able to accommodate the growing number of artists in our community is an important reason for this move” Powers said.
We've been excited about the potential in the Warehouse District (or the Sunset District or Depot District?) for years and are glad to see so much activity moving West in 2011. We've been waiting for this activity for years and it seems to finally have momentum. Six galleries and shops will now occupy four blocks of Martin Street. From the VAE, the 311, to Raleigh Denim's Curatory, to Designbox's Art Gallery and Retail Shop, Raleigh Contemporary Art Museum and finally Flanders, the Warehouse District is poised to become the new arts and culture district of Downtown Raleigh. First Fridays in the Warehouse District are going to be the place to be now that this area is a huge artists and art lovers destination. As well, upstairs from the VAE is the studio space of artist Thomas Sayre and Clearscapes.
graphic by Jon Zellweger
Now that all of these art galleries will be holding down Martin Street, it will be great to see other businesses (other than restaurants) follow suit. Rapid Fitness announced that they are moving to the area in a few months. Now all that we need is that music venue that's been rumored for years. Considering that Vintage 21 is thinking of leaving the area for East downtown, their space is already set up perfectly for a music venue. Yes, please.
We are very excited about VAE's move. It is a great plus for both them and the area. We look forward to the crowds that will start to inhabit Martin Streets and beyond not only for food but for art and culture. Now, if we could only get a cup of coffee and buy some beer whilst walking through this area. Well, those might just be coming soon too.....
graphic by Jon Zellweger