In order to accommodate an increased demand for classes and gallery space in the Lowell arts community, the organization LowellArts!
has purchased two properties in downtown Lowell with plans to renovate the space and reopen as a new gallery, workshop and performance space.
"I would say, as far as our gallery space goes, right now we have possibly about 1,000 square feet in our room for hanging and displaying artwork," says Loraine Smalligan, executive director of LowellArts! "The new space has two times the space and there is a demand for us to have more room for displaying work."
Since its inception in the late 1970s, LowellArts! has been located at 149 S. Hudson St., but Smalligan says the current space has little visibility from the street, with a lack of on-site parking and small meeting and classroom spaces that the community has outgrown.
Located on the corner of Broadway and Main St. in historic downtown Lowell, the new space at 221 and 223 W. Main St. will give LowellArts! double the classroom size and allow them to open up new classroom programming with a focus on youth.
"We really want to focus on youth classes to begin with," Smalligan says, adding that LowellArts! will also continue to add more adult classes, but since they already have an additional venue in downtown Lowell for adults, building more youth classes is currently the priority.
Right now, Smalligan says LowellArts! is only focused on developing and renovating the first floor, working with architects at Mathison I Mathison
to open up the connecting wall between the two former retail locations and create a large gallery space.
The modern update of the historic space will also include a new flexible, modular stage area for music and theater performances and, eventually, youth theater classes as well, with seating for approximately 50 audience members.
"We don't have a performance venue that we own specifically," says Smalligan. "We use different venues in Lowell and sometimes it's a real challenge to get those to work out the way we want them to."
Smalligan says in order to cover costs for purchasing the building and completing renovations, LowellArts! plans to launch a capital campaign that she expects to last about a year.
"The earliest construction can begin on the interior is next summer and our goal would be to move in as soon as possible," she says, shooting for a grand opening event sometime in mid-2016.
"The community is so enthusiastic about everything related to the arts," Smalligan says. "We want to nurture that interest and grow it so that the arts remain a vibrant part of life as well as the economy in this region."
For more information, visit www.lowellartsmi.org or click here
to see plans for the new space online.
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of LowellArts!