Art in General, the nonprofit organization that has been located in downtown Manhattan district since 1981, will temporarily relocate to the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, beneath the Manhattan Bridge, in January 2016. “We’re just completely thrilled to be experiencing the community in Brooklyn and the audience that has been growing in the past few years,” Anne Barlow, the organization’s executive director, said in a phone interview. “We see it as an exciting opportunity.”
At its current space, Art in General has a sixth-floor gallery and a storefront. Now, in its Dumbo space, the organization will be located on the ground floor of 145 Plymouth Street, putting the organization in the middle of a budding arts district. The new location is around the corner from the Sculptors Guild and the all-women space A.I.R. Gallery. Smack Mellon, another nonprofit arts space, is located nearby, and so is Melville House Books, which could be found at 145 Plymouth Street before moving recently. (Earlier this year, it was reported that Stephen Romano Gallery would move to 145 Plymouth Street—the gallery moved to Bushwick instead.)
“Being on the ground floor is definitely a big advantage for that new space,” Barlow said, citing the large amount of tourists that come through that area of Brooklyn as potential new visitors. “For the first time, we’ll really have foot traffic because the door is there.”
But the new location is hardly permanent—Barlow explained that Art in General signed a three-year lease for the Dumbo space, which is being rented to the organization by the real-estate firm Two Trees Management Company for below the market rate. “We have these next three years to identify a long-term, permanent home,” she said.
Despite the stress of a move, Art in General has continued to operate, almost unfazed by the relocation. This past Sunday, Barlow and Art in General opened shows of new work by Donna Huanca and Ezra Wube at kim? Contemporary Art Centre, in Riga, Latvia, as part of Art in General’s international collaborations program. When Art in General moves to Dumbo, it will collaborate with the Center of Contemporary Art in Tbilisi on a show of five Georgian artists. The show—which features art by Nino Sekhniashvili, Gio Sumbadze, Thea Gvetadze, Mamuka Japharidze, and Nika Machaidze—will open on January 30, 2016.
As it preps the inaugural show in its Dumbo space, Art in General will also continue its New Commissions series with work by Colleen Asper, Alison O’Daniel, and Marika Kandelaki. The organization’s annual symposium, What Now?, is also in the works.
Barlow noted that the move to Dumbo also gives Art in General new opportunities for its programming. “We’re aware that there are possibilities for our program in public-space areas,” she said, “so that’s very exciting in terms of performance, screenings, or other kinds of public projects that might be better for artists who have an outside gallery space somewhere else.”
Art in General is hardly the only nonprofit arts organization to decamp to Brooklyn in the past few years. In 2013, Eyebeam left Chelsea to set up shop in Sunset Park. This year, e-flux announced that it will leave the Lower East Side for Clinton Hill. While these are two isolated incidents, they’re part of a larger trend happening in Manhattan as prices for real estate continue to rise. “The smaller ones, like the ones we’re mentioning, are in a different world from 1999 and the early 2000s period,” Barlow said. “It’s become an incredibly expensive city to live and work in. I think that’s something we’re all facing. The smaller nonprofits—for them, it’s a more challenging time.”
However, she added, “Actually, Brooklyn is not inexpensive as a borough.”
Be that as it may, Art in General will continue to explore its options. Barlow said she feels “enormous gratitude” to all the donors who have supported the organization over the past 34 years, and she’s excited to see what happens next. As Art in General moves, Barlow and the organization will continue to ask itself how it can be “vibrant, relevant, experimental, and all of the things that are supposed to characterize nonprofit arts behavior,” she said. “We’re in a new location and a new context, and you need to be responsive to that.”