Art Community Conversation
At Rochester Contemporary
Friday, March 31, 2023
As a tenant and working artist, I was invited to attend a meeting at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
last week that ended up being very informative. This meeting billed as an "Art Community Conversation" was a result of concerns about the Hungerford Building, in Rochester where I have my studio. The questions have surfaced about the intent of the new owners and I thought that this was a very familiar scenario because early in 2004 I had to move my art studio away from Brooklyn, New York when the new landlord there tried to triple my rent!? It took me a whole summer to pack everything and now here in 2023 I may face the same situation again....so what to do about this?
The meeting at RoCo started off with an introduction from the Director, Bleu Cease, and we all got to watch a short video of artists ( including myself ) speaking about the current state of affairs at The Hungerford, and we all wonder what to make of the new owners and the much larger bills we are receiving for just renting the spaces we regularly use.
I found the studio space that I rent by meeting with other artists and looking at buildings around town. There weren't that many people on the fourth floor of the Hungerford Building when I moved in after signing a lease with Dennis Maguire, ( now the previous owner). My space has great light and looks out onto railroad tracks stretching off into the distance.
Last year ( 2022 ) I didn't know that Dennis Maguire was looking at offers to sell his building.
I thought that there was a waiting list for space and that the building was being operated fairly well.
Then I found out that the building had been sold to a new Hungerford owner!
Bleu Cease introduces guest speakers at an Artist Community meeting at RoCo
Sitting with other audience members at RoCo last week I learned a lot about how tenants in the Hungerford Building can gather together and work for the changes we want - including getting a new lease for our space. We heard from Jay Rowe, Kelly Cheatle, and Calvin Eaton, and they helped clarify how to move forward.
Tenants in a space like the Hungerford have to exercise their collective strength and move forward carefully. I have noticed some people have already moved out, and I wonder how we can get together and work collectively..?
Time to get down to work, and start a strategy...and I am sure that we are not alone here.