Danville Express

Newsfront - January 12, 2007

Danville Art Gallery closes

Member cites lack of funds and town support - as well as steep stairs

by Jordan M. Doronila

The Danville Art Gallery has closed its doors.

The public received notice earlier this week about the gallery's folding, which happened two months ago.

Members of the nonprofit Danville Area Cultural Alliance (DACA), the gallery operators, closed the venue in Danville's Village Theatre and Art Gallery building at 233 Front St. on Nov. 1.

The gallery's shortage of money, lack of town support contributed to its closing, said DACA secretary Fred Turner. He also noted the steep steps did not company with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"We're out of money, and we're out of volunteers," Turner said. "We are having a (difficult) time getting up to the second floor."

However, Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said it was the group's responsibility to raise money for the arts - not Danville's. DACA was created to promote the arts and be a fundraising arm for the Danville Arts Commission, and it has deviated from its purpose, he said.

"I am not too keen in how they are doing this," Calabrigo said earlier this week. "I wasn't really aware the gallery had been closed."

"We haven't told them to close the gallery," he added. "It was their decision to close the gallery - not the town's."

Turner said DACA ran out of money to pay for the gallery's executive director. Additionally, the venue's steep steps made it difficult for people with disabilities to attend their classes, he said. As a result, the town allowed the group to hold classes at the Danville Community Center.

Turner said he wanted to use the Village Theatre's first floor to make it easier for the public to attend the gallery's functions. The first floor is occupied by the Role Players Ensemble Theatre and town staff members.

The monthly rent for the building is $100 a month. DACA splits the cost with the Role Players.

Turner said it took long a time to notify the public of the gallery's closing because DACA was deliberating on its next step.

"We were just trying to figure it out," he said. "Some of the people who volunteer are retired. The arts community is going through a crisis."

"If this town is going to have an art gallery, the public has to make the Town Council aware," he added.

Calabrigo said the town has been working with DACA. Town Attorney Rob Ewing received notification that the group had recently reshuffled its board leadership a couple of months ago. Apparently, the new board members wanted to do things differently, Calabrigo said.

One of the original goals of DACA was to showcase artists in the local community, he said. But the new board wanted to display more work from artists who were affiliated with it.

Additionally, board members went to the town asking for financial support of $10,000 to move forward, Calabrigo said.

"They're supposed to raise funds and not get the town to provide (money) for them," he noted.

The town is working to fulfill the needs of seniors and youths, Calabrigo said, and DACA may have to wait its turn for attention.

"It's going to behoove us to revisit what their charge is and whether or not the charge is being met," he said.

Also, he said the first floor of the building was designed for the theater, and it lacks wall space for art.

"It wouldn't work as a gallery," he said.


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