We reported this week how the Town Council is considering different ideas for the former Chapel Hill Museum building at 523 E. Franklin St., including turning the building into a permanent arts venue. (See previous blog post here) We will have a fuller story in this Sunday's Chapel Hill News.
This morning we received a copy of professor elin o"Hara slavik's proposal, in which the UNC Arts Department offers to partner with the town in running the space, including offering slavik's services as a coordinator at no cost to the town. Here is a copy of that proposal for the program she suggests calling CHART (Chapel Hill Art).
After reading it, tell us what you think. Should the town make 523 E. Franklin a permanent arts space? Do you support a different use for the building, or do you think the town should sell it, as a citizens budget advisory committee recommended a few years ago. Tell us here or at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, May 4, and we'll publish your responses in the Sunday, May 8, issue of the Chapel Hill News.
(A Cultural Arts Space in Chapel Hill)
Proposal by elin o’Hara slavick
Distinguished Professor of Art, UNC, Chapel Hill
and Jeff York, Public Arts Administrator for Chapel Hill
March 14, 2011
523 East Franklin will be named CHART to be able to promote, brand and support the space as a location to be visited. It will be a collaborative project space between the town of Chapel Hill (Jeff York, Public Arts Administrator) and UNC’s Art Department (Professor elin o’Hara slavick), with a 3-year renewable contract/lease with an "out clause" for both parties
The reasons for a 3-year renewable contract/lease are critical to the success of this proposal. To call for submissions, curate, install, advertise and de-install exhibitions and organize events takes advance scheduling. To mount exciting shows and hold popular events requires a calendar and funding. Slavick is currently applying for several UNC grants (10K + 50K) for this project and would apply for more regional and national grants if there was 3-year renewable agreement to guarantee a commitment to support the grant applications. Since the exhibitions will primarily be installed and de-installed (with all the accompanying work: press, wall text, website, etc) by Professor slavick and students, the general calendar would be 2 serious exhibitions a year – 1 in the fall and 1 in the spring, with various programming and smaller/shorter shows throughout the year. The Town of Chapel Hill, through the Public Arts Commission would program the space for the summer months of May, June and July (for community art exhibitions, juried shows, events, etc). The East Gallery will be entirely under this plan. The West Gallery (the carpeted room) will also fall under this plan, but with these considerations: no sculpture/floor pieces will be installed in the room so that it can be utilized for community meetings, events, performances, retreats, etc; The Town of Chapel Hill, through the Public Arts Commission, will program this space during the summer months of May, June and July and will have other opportunities to mount juried community art exhibitions in the space during the year (depending on the schedule and needs of other exhibitions).
Some ideas for exhibitions, to be determined by Slavick, students and the advisory board, and which will strive to be inclusive, eclectic and expansive: Community Projects Are Art; Utopic and Dystopic Landscapes; Nests; A Collaboratory; Activism as Art; Buried Truths; The Climate Condition; The Personal is Political; Church and State; Visionaries; Post-Media; North Carolina Triennial.
Slavick’s salary as Curator/Coordinator of CHART will be covered by UNC as her regular salary. CHART will constitute her service for the Art Department and the University. Jeff York will serve as Advisor to CHART and an initial advisory board will be set up with 2 members of the Public Arts Commission, Jeff York and James Hirschfield, the Chair of the Art Department. The Advisory Board will grow over time to include other community members.
The value of Slavick's role as Curator/Coordinator is hard to quantify. However, the salary for Director of CAM (Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh) is 90K and the Director of Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill is 40K. Not only would Slavick be providing a valuable service in curating and coordinating this unique and exciting venture, she would also bring the talents, skills, vision and energy of students to assist in the exhibitions from start to finish – an immeasurable value, as well as the immeasurable value of a positive, constructive and creative collaboration between the town and university. She also brings a broad knowledge of and connection to the international art world.
Slavick, and potentially other faculty at UNC, will teach classes in/through the space, for example: Professional Seminar; MFA Seminar; Mixed Media; Art as Social Practice; Collaborative Strategies. The students will gain experience through service learning while providing creative labor through: producing websites and exhibition cards; writing press releases, wall texts and grants; organizing exhibitions and gallery guides; curating; installing exhibitions, arranging the lighting, installing sound pieces and figuring out other technical projects and problems; receiving, unpacking and packing art; dealing directly with artists regarding exhibitions and materials; planning and running an exhibition space, openings, special events; working closely with Professors and artists. While there are universities that have working relationships with galleries and museums in the towns where they are located, a truly collaborative cultural space between the town and university is unique. It is certainly different than any other cultural institution in the region.
Every effort will be made to exhibit North Carolina (Triangle) artists alongside international artists. The Local Histories show includes 54 artists, 38 of whom are either from NC and live elsewhere now, live in NC currently, or have a serious relationship with NC as alumni of UNC and other NC schools.
Every effort will be made to provide the space for the multiple purposes suggested by the Public Arts Commission: workshops; residencies; classes; lectures; events, etc.
While the UNC Art Department, under the supervision of Professor elin o'Hara slavick, will be "running" the space, every intention is to INCLUDE and COLLABORATE with the town of Chapel Hill and other organizations (Center for Documentary Studies/Student Action with Farmworkers, RAFI-USA - The Rural Advancement Foundation International, Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Project, The Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, The Sacrificial Poets), Professors and students in other disciplines (Latina/o Studies and the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, Communication Studies, Music, English), regional high, middle and elementary schools to community art projects and visiting culture producers (like the Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala).
The Town of Chapel Hill will be responsible for basic maintenance of the building. Jeff York and elin o'Hara slavick will be responsible for communicating needs and budgets as necessary, serving as liaisons between the town and the university, the building and the public.
The Art Department/UNC will be responsible for the cost of exhibition cards and any costs incurred by the classes. The value of students producing websites for the exhibitions, wall text and labels, press releases, organizing events, installing and dismantling shows, documenting whatever happens at CHART through videos and podcasts is unquantifiable/immeasurable for the town and university. Through Slavick applying for grants from UNC, the State and other sources, UNC would provide funding above and beyond the aforementioned service values.
Using Local Histories: The Ground We Walk On as an example, a show organized in less than a month for close to no money, one can see the possibilities, excitement and energy generated from such a project: March 5, Bird Watching-Listening Walking Tour with artist Julie Thomson had 20 people in attendance; March 18, Performances by Cathy McLaurin (from Boston), Where the Arms Hook Onto the Body, Neill Prewitt (Chapel Hill), Untitled and Lance Winn (from Delaware), Full Body Scan, with participation from the Homeless Shelter; April 4, Mildred’s Lane Goes Elsewhere - A collaboration between artist J. Morgan Puett and Elsewhere, A living museum in Greensboro, North Carolina (Sponsored by the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation and the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC, Chapel Hill – 3K raised) and April 11, Local Food and Politics - RAFI-USA - The Rural Advancement Foundation International, Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Project, (Joseph Schroeder, Program Director and Alix Blair, Information Specialist), SAF - Student Action with Farmworkers and graduate students from NC State and a history professor at UNC-CH to discuss cartography, urbanization and history.
Over 500 people attended the opening of Local Histories and it has been reviewed/mentioned in/on: Frank Stasio's State of Things on WUNC with elin o'Hara slavick and artist Cici Stevens; twice on WCOM, interviews with Jackie Helvey and Molly Matlock, with graduate students and artists Ashley Florence and Amy White; WCHL, an interview with Ed Camp, with graduate student and artist Tracy Spencer and elin o'Hara slavick; the front page of the Sunday Chapel Hill News, March 13; The Independent; The University Gazette; The Daily Tar Heel. A forthcoming review will be in Temporary Review, an new online magazine out of St. Louis. This kind of coverage puts Chapel Hill on the cultural map, along with the NCMA, the Nasher Museum, the Weatherspoon in Greensboro, and SECCA in Winston-Salem. Slavick has given tours to a group of home schooled students; The Durham School for the Arts; seniors at the Emerson Waldorf School; Dean Bill Andrews; Chancellor Holden Thorp and his wife Patti; curators; reporters; a Conceptual Photography; a Basic Drawing and a Basic Painting class.
The town of Chapel Hill will have a cultural art space that exhibits excellent, thematically driven shows, like Local Histories: The Ground We Walk On, on a regular basis. A space like this will bring many visitors to Chapel Hill, to the beautiful Historic District, thereby increasing revenue for the town and business owners. NOTE: Many neighbors were at the opening and were thrilled with the use of the space.
This project will improve the relationship between the university and the town. Working together, both providing services, this collaborative project will function as a welcome center as people enter the historic town – CHART.
The building does not go unused and into further disarray. It would remain a free site for the community as it was originally as a public library.
The building in its current state is most suited for art exhibitions.
(Via the 5013c status of The Friends of Parks and Recreation or UNC)
When art sells, the agreed upon percentage of sales (20%) would go back into the maintenance of the building as an exhibition space.
Participating artists could make limited editions for sale in the space.
An annual art auction could be held – a fun and exciting event.
Special events, like concerts and certain performances, could have a small entrance fee.
There could be a suggested donation of $5 to the museum.
The west wing, and possibly other spaces/rooms, could be rented for meetings, events, retreats, etc. through a rental fee schedule.
Artists would be responsible for shipping costs to and from exhibitions (except under special circumstances, like monies being raised to cover such costs.)
NEA, University (Slavick is applying for 2 UNC grants – 1 for $50K and 1 for $10K for this project) and Regional (NC Arts Council) grants.