Gallery still struggling to remain open

BUCKHANNON – Thursday’s Create Buckhannon meeting opened with a discussion about potential changes to the Main Street Art Gallery, which continues to struggle to stay open.

The gallery has been scrambling to keep up with its rent, electric and utility bills, and some members, who must pay a $100 membership fee, have withdrawn from the gallery. Other potential members simply do not sign up because they say they feel that the fees are just too much when their artwork is not guaranteed to sell.

The gallery, however, relies on volunteerism and membership and commission fees to keep the shop open and operating. Participants will gather at a future special meeting to discuss plans and ideas for how to revamp the operations of the gallery; make it more accessible to artists and visitors; and discuss how to keep it open.

The special gallery reorganizational meeting will take place from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The Main Street Art Gallery, Main Street Arts Co-op and interested community members usually meet every Thursday at 11 a.m. in the upstairs room of C.J. Maggies on Main Street in


All artists and community members, with an interest in keeping the Main Street Art Gallery of Buckhannon open, are welcome to attend.

Some ideas for the reorganization of the gallery that already have been discussed include the idea of doing away with the commission and annual fee. The fee would then be replaced with an estimated $30 per month fee.

This fee would buy space in the gallery that may or may not be shared with multiple artists who then could split the fee. With that model, the gallery would hope to operate with 30 artist memberships, Create Buckhannon member Lois Clemens said.

“It’s really a work in progress,” Clemens said, adding that most other galleries operate with a requirement that members spend a minimum amount of time helping in the gallery.

She said that the Main Street Art Gallery does not have such a requirement at this time. Clemens also suggested that such a membership requirement could mean that artists only work one eight-hour shift about once every six weeks.

“We need the artists to be more involved,” Clemens said, adding that the gallery operates solely with volunteer workers.

Clemens also said that the gallery may consider moving its location closer to the Opera House on Main Street, where more of the city’s pedestrian traffic is concentrated. Moving to the new location would have the gallery near the center of activity in town and close to the Upshur County Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Create Buckhannon members also announced that calendars, featuring Upshur County photographs by local photographers, are on sale at the CVB/Chamber office on Main Street for $10. Proceeds support the Latham House. Stop by or call 304-472-1757 for other purchase locations.