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08/10/15 - a

Thank you for reading this COGS E-Newsletter. What will Scottsdale be when the downtown Arts District is GONE?  By May of this year when COGS and gallery owners met with City Manager, Fritz Behring, 41 large fine arts galleries had shuttered their doors forever or moved on to another city. That loss took less than six years.   (This doesn’t include the smaller galleries that lasted less than two low-sales summer seasons).  Why is this happening to our Arts District that at one time was nationally rated only behind Laguna and/or Carmel CA ?
 
Current Action: The Scottsdale Gallery Association (SGA) held a July 28th conference attended by more than 40 gallery owners, merchants and art supporters to share and discuss their concerns, to identify specific detrimental impacts caused by city government decisions and to suggest constructive action options.
 
Statistics:  60 total closed galleries according to a recent gallery owner’s count     6 closures the first 6 months of 2015     25% vacancy rate     rents down 40%    This is a major sales and rent tax loss to the City of Scottsdale.
 
Identified by the gallery and arts-related business owners and merchants as detrimental to the Arts District:  (1) city approval of temporary art-related vendors on city property/Marshall Bridge on Thursday nights in direct competition with  the 40 year-traditional Main Street and Marshall Way ArtWalk  (2) promotion of ArtBridge by confused hotel concierges as the Art District’s  ArtWalk  (3) city approval and promotion of competing art fairs with out-of-state artists in the Civic Center, Loop 101/Scottsdale Road and elsewhere during the narrow prime tourist weeks (4) the city staff as the Special Events Committee continuously approves vendor permits that are not “special events” (5) for many years, failure of the city to upgrade the area street lighting and landscape infrastructure ( 6 ) no representation on the council appointed Tourism Development Commission or the Tourism Advisory Task Force (7) no input on the re-write of the Special Events Ordinance to be presented to council August 31st (8 ) the Scottsdale Visitors’ and Convention Bureau advertisement campaign does not include promotion of the  Arts District
 
Gallery owners who have invested in our city for many years shared these statements with COGS:
 “I am in favor of Special Events that are inviting, educational or just plain fun and exciting. However, I find the number of vendor-driven experiences in the Scottsdale Downtown Core to be specifically detrimental to my small business. ..Tents set up to sell art and art-related products are NOT events. They are pop-up retail businesses with no permanent presence, community roots or responsibilities. They do not have a stake in Downtown or the 40+ years of tradition or building Scottsdale as a world-renown arts destination.” C.Cartens of Cartens Fine Art Studio and Gallery
 
 “They take away a massive amount of revenue from the downtown galleries at peak season.”
 
“A 72-day tent art event is not an event, but rather a seasonal business without the constraints of brick and mortar obligations. The city/taxpayers subsidize this at $15,000 per year.”
 
“Why does an historic 40 year plus Art district representing many galleries and businesses receive a meager city subsidy of $17,000 when a single tent vendor gets $15,000 annually?”
 
:“Scottsdale’s international art identity is now becoming associated with a tent.”
 
“As the transformation to long term tent art events occurs, the downtown Art District is being destroyed. We are no longer seen as a viable market to out-of-state galleries looking to relocate.”
 
“The  lack of city support is creating a toxic environment that cannot attract new tenants.”
   
“The local galleries cannot compete with the huge marketing campaign conducted by the Celebration of Fine Art (Loop 101/Scottsdale Road tents) because we have building rent, taxes, maintenance, and employees expenses 12 months of the year. Temporary tents poach the prime season art buyers and those out-of-state artists’  profits are spent back in their home state.”
 
“Would the bar district allow a 72 day Beer and Wine Tent on a vacant lot in their area from January to March? ”
 
“The Tourism Advisory Task Force charter has a focus on “Arts and Culture” but no plans to promote the existing Arts District while planning Art Events.” Bob Pejman, Pejman Gallery
 
“We need team work between the city and downtown Scottsdale galleries and merchants. We would like to work as a valued member of the decision-making team rather than an adversary.” French Thompson , French Designer Jeweler
 
Scottsdale Gallery Association recommendations: (1) Regarding ArtBridge-Do not approve any additional days beyond the 28 Sunday afternoons that have already been granted during season especially Thursdays unless the event is a non-competing (non vendor driven) event such as music, food or sports. (2) Find a solution that serves the needs of the AZ Canal merchants while not eroding the galleries’ business and Thursday ArtWalk.(3) Re-establish the vibrant gallery relationships that benefit all (4) Request appointment of an active gallery owner or merchant to the Tourism Advisory Task Force and any subsequent art-related city commissions, boards and committees. (5) Write individually to council members to assure them that a large majority of Arts District owners and merchants have serious concerns.
 
The aftermath: Last week the Special Events Committee approved the continuous Thursday night ArtBridge vendor sales as a “special event” on the city’s Marshall Bridge.
The following is an excerpt from an 18 year gallery owner’s response to that action.
 
“..It should of been noted that the entire gallery association and more than 30 galleries were vehemently opposed to allowing use of their same night which was disregarded by this committee.  I'm not sure what more we could of done. What would of constituted proof to provide this committee with that they have directly harmed the galleries? We did present pictures at the meeting with the city as well as a detailed report on all of the galleries who have gone out of business.  It is completely naive of this committee to believe that the event would send people away from their event and direct them to the art galleries. Why else would they be so adamant about having their event on Thursday night other than to piggyback on the reputation of our ArtWalk we've all worked so hard to develop over these years. You could of so easily moved it to Friday or Wednesday. 
 
Extremely frustrated with your decision,
 
Mark Pabst
The Signature Gallery”
 
 
COGS readers are encouraged to share your comments with SGA President, Veronica Graffius, Calvin Charles Gallery  veronicagraffius@calvincharles.com and to us at board@cogsaz.net.  What recommendations do you have?
 
NEXT NEWSLETTER: Wild horses and the groundswell to spare them.  New development projects proposed for the downtown area and northern Scottsdale.   Analysis and evaluation of the content of the Webb Survey consultant’s report ($72,000 commissioned by the Tourism Advisory Task Force).

     For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, 

     Sonnie Kirtley, Chair e-mail sonniek@cogsaz.net 

     Coalition of Greater Scottsdale

     7904 E. Chaparral Rd., Suite 110, PMB 127

     Scottsdale, AZ 85250

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