CulturalDC, the nonprofit arts organization that runs Flashpoint Gallery and Source Black Box, is buying the Gallery Place location that houses Flashpoint and its administrative offices.
The purchase comes after 10 years of leasing three units in the Mather Building, at 916 G St. NW. Rent in the neighborhood has soared since CulturalDC began its lease, in 2003, leading the group to question whether it could afford to lease space in that area. Executive Director Juanita Hardy said the organization’s 10-year lease was set to end this year, which would have led to a 20 percent increase in rent.
“Our landlord made us a generous offer that secures our foothold in downtown Washington,” Hardy said. “We were facing displacement, as so many arts organizations have faced in the past.” The group paid $1.75 million, which Hardy said will decrease its operating costs.
The nonprofit group, known as the Cultural Development Corp. until last year, exists to find spaces for new and emerging local artists to exhibit their work. But in recent years, arts nonprofit groups and local galleries have had difficulty affording spaces in downtown or Northwest neighborhoods. Randall Scott Gallery reopened in the H Street corridor in last year after closing its Logan Circle location three years before. Last month, Curator’s Office, a contemporary gallery, announced that it would be leaving 14th Street NW after nine years at its location. The nonprofit Washington Project for the Arts left Dupont Circle in January, taking up temporary residence at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, in Southwest Washington.
Hardy said relocating was not a viable option for the group: “Staying here was vital to our mission of providing space for artists and art organizations to create and present their work.”
CulturalDC has already raised funds for the building via an anonymous donor and is hoping to receive monetary support from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The group is also planning to renovate the gallery.
“Now we know we have a space that will be our home forever,” Hardy said. “We’re very pleased with this outcome.”