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Mt. Airy Art Garage must find a new home

Mt. Airy Art Garage

Linda Slodki addresses MAAG supporters

Linda Slodki addresses MAAG supporters

This summer after six years and close to a quarter million dollars invested in rent and renovations, Mt. Airy Art Garage learned that they only had a year left in their current location.

When they originally rented the space near the corner of Germantown and West Mt. Airy Avenues, the original MAAG leaders -- including president and co-founder Linda Slodki, her co-founder Arleen Olshan, architect Donna Globus and founding board member Solomon Levy -- spearheaded an astonishing overhaul of the long-neglected warehouse. Under a five-year original lease, a building featuring trenches in the floor, no lights, heating, plumbing or emergency exits was transformed into a vibrant hub for social change and exchange through the arts. But building owner Greg Bushu has decided to remove MAAG's option to renew the one-year lease they received this summer. According to organization leaders, he’s refused to meet with them or discuss the change, despite their model record as tenants and status as an anchor institution on the Mt. Airy business corridor.

"It’s a blow," explains Slodki, but they’re not going to fight the owner. After investing so much in the space, they did have high hopes of gaining ownership, "but the asking price was exorbitant."

"We came back several times to the table to ask about the price he was asking," she says. MAAG had their own appraisal of the property completed last year, and according to Slodki, Bushu’s asking price was almost double the building’s appraised value. "We can’t get a mortgage based on a price like that."

So what’s next?

MAAG is launching a major fundraising and search campaign, along with a series of community meetings to garner ideas and support for their next phase. The first took place on August 20; the second was on August 30. Watch MAAG’s website for details on these and other events.

Whatever happens, Slodki says neighborhood support has been overwhelming, and she’s hoping MAAG can find a new home somewhere in Northwest Philadelphia.

"I don’t know where we’ll be a year from now," she muses. "Maybe we’ll be smaller. Maybe we won’t have such a large rent that we have to meet. Maybe we won’t have resident artist studios. Maybe we’ll have a gallery on one floor and offices on the second floor. If this place is as important to you as you all say it is, why would we give up?"

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Linda Slodki, Mt. Airy Art Garage

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