Atlantic Place Makes Arts Space of Vacant Space

PHOTO: Bryhanna Greenough (Business and Arts NL), Kelsey Una (artist), Kevin-Barry Martin (artist), Kevin-Barry Martin (artist), Kimberly Clarke (artist), Duncan Whitcombe (Martek), Gary Johnston (artist).

Seeing an empty storefront in downtown St. John’s is always a bummer for residents and tourists alike. But where some see failure, others see grand opportunity.

The first floor of Atlantic place one such place. After a period of vacancy, the first floor corral (the former home of a Cora’s franchise) is now the home of dedicated public arts space.

The former restaurant space has been transformed into a space for four temporary resident artists, who will be working, creating, and cooperating in full view of visitors, tenants and employees of Atlantic Place.

The Atlantic Place arts space was born out of necessity and good luck.The project was created by Business and Arts NL, a non-profit organization that drives economic development and fosters partnerships between our business and arts communities.

When Templeton’s closed last winter, Business and Arts NL was stuck without a studio space where artists could paint their Come Play With Me pianos. “Our next piano was destined for Atlantic Place, so it made sense to try to process it on-site,” says Bryhanna Greenough, Program Director at Business & Arts NL.

“Thankfully, Martek (the company managing Atlantic Place) was receptive to the idea. After moving one piano (and another) into the space, it was easy to visualize how this temporary piano-painting studio could expand into something that could address the lack of affordable studio space in the city. At the same time, the activity created some interest and activity in an area that had been unused for awhile.”

With that, Greenough started fleshing out a proposal to present to Martek, a frequent collaborator of Business & Arts NL. As in-kind use of this space has been provided by Martek, no rental fees will be charged to artists using the space.

Through an application process, Business and Arts NL sought out emerging and professional artists. All four studio spots have been awarded to artists for the period ending August 31, 2017. The artists-in-residence include Gary Johnston, Kelsey Una, Kimberly Clarke, and Kevin-Barry Martin.

Martin is a painter and sculptor from the Southern Shore. “I am hoping to share my passion for art with others and increase the amount of time I spend creating,” says Martin.“With time, I would like to gain exposure and hope to live from my art.”

Though the spots are filled for the summer, Business and Arts NL is still welcoming project applications from artists of all disciplines, including projects that would use the space in different ways, from film screenings to art exhibitions and more.

Meanwhile, Greenough recognizes that it may not be a permanent solution. “Despite all this awesomeness from local businesses, I think it’s important to say these spaces I’m dealing in do not fit all of the needs of all of our artists,” she says. “We do need something more permanent in place where artists are not simply invited guests, but have more autonomy.”

For more information, contact Business & Arts NL (businessandartsnl.com).

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