Art group seeking help, taking risk

The Main Street Arts Cooperative in Buckhannon is experiencing financial difficulties, but a group of invested artists are not ready to throw in the bucket of paint just yet.

Tom Lynch, president of the Main Street Arts Cooperative Board, said the Main Street Art Gallery’s earnings are down 60 percent from last year. He also said the gallery is having difficulty earning enough to pay its monthly bills, despite the $100 membership fee and 40 percent commission collected from the gallery’s art sales.

Some say it may be time for the gallery and the organization of interested artists to consider taking a few risks.

“You have to be willing to take risks,” newly appointed Main Street Arts Cooperative Board member C.J. Rylands said.

One risk already decided upon is to remove the $25 registration fee for this September’s art fair hosted by the group. This could attract new artists to the fair that may not otherwise have been able to set up.

The group of artists will be teaming up with the Buckhannon Farmers Market this year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 21 for a combined art fair and chili cook-off at Jawbone Park.

“The more you have together, the better draw it is,” participant and art jeweler Christina Keller said. “If it looks like it’s happening, people are going to come.”

Representatives from the community, the Main Street Arts Cooperative Board and the Main Street Art Gallery board met at the gallery Wednesday and at C.J. Maggie’s Restaurant Thursday to develop plans and goals for the gallery and the Main Street Art fair.

“We want to see (the gallery) stay. It’s very important,” participant Lois Clemens said.

Another risk being considered by gallery officials may include dropping the $100 annual membership fee, which many representatives have said has turned artists away from the gallery.

One thing many of the participating board and community members agreed upon was that the gallery needs volunteers who can help keep the doors open so that more patrons can browse and spend time with the artwork. Many local artists and participants are brainstorming activities and programs that could keep patrons visiting within the gallery longer. Those may include art classes, demonstrations and lectures, or simply having members periodically bring in different work to fill the limited gallery space.

“If you see an opportunity, or have an idea to make something happen, then just invest a little time in it,” Rylands said. “Let’s work toward that, make that a success, and in the same context, work toward finding board members and re-visioning.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering at the gallery, or setting up an art booth at the fair, is encouraged to contact the Main Street Arts Cooperative at 304-473-1444 or by email at