The arts council has signed a three-year lease for 207 Coxe Avenue, a 15,000-square-foot building that was formerly an Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry shelter, according to Jennifer Gordon, exhibitions manager for the arts council. The arts council, which plans to keep its office and exhibitions space at the Grove Arcade, is working on a plan to make the Coxe Avenue location a home for working artists.
“We want to take an artist from start to finish,” in terms of providing artists equipment to use, such as a kiln or a combination press, as well as offering artists the business training to succeed. “That’s our mission.”
East West Coxe LLC, a group of local investors that includes Mike Figura, David Moritz and Brian Nelson, purchased 207 and 217 Coxe Ave. from ABCCM last year. The group gave the arts council a grant to get the project started, Gordon said.
“Their generosity has been phenomenal,” she said.
The arts council project is the second project announced in as many weeks aimed at boosting local arts. The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design announced last week that a $715,000 grant from the Wingate Foundation and a partnership with UNC Asheville will allow it to open a space next year inside its 67 Broadway location in downtown Asheville aimed at helping makers build companies and commercialize products. That project will also connect with the center’s Hive AVL conference center.
Gordon said the arts council is looking forward to reaching out to other groups, such as Asheville Makers and Asheville Darkroom, about the possibility of locating on Coxe Avenue. The arts council also plans to launch a crowd-funding campaign to help pay for equipment, she said.
Last year, Figura said East West Coxe LLC will be working with Austin Walker of Whitney Commercial Real Estate to find tenants. He said at the time that plans were to create affordable space for artists at 207 Coxe Ave. and perhaps create an artist co-op. “We know that artists are getting pushed out of the River Arts District, so we like that idea,” Figura said at the time.
In an interview Friday, Figura said he was excited to partner with the Asheville Area Arts Council. “We wanted to be more strategic and we thought it would be a good opportunity for the arts council to have an artist co-op and workforce development space, and for them to manage it,” he said.
Figura said his group gave the arts council a $30,000 grant to get started, with the possibility of a loan for equipment. Figura’s group has also set aside money for a mural project on the front facade, a project the arts council will oversee.
“We want to see the South Slope become a mural arts district,” Figura said, noting the numerous existing warehouse buildings prime for art.
“It takes us all working together to help it grow in the direction we want it to,” Figura said, “and artists are the key to helping us keep our soul and our spirit.”