WADA believes that its newly renamed location will foster a sense of artistic community in St. Pete, allowing art lovers and artists to “work, reside, educate, and interact” with each other. The purpose behind the ArtsXchange is to bring artists and the public together in a shared space that will allow artists to meet with, educate and, ultimately, sell their goods directly to the consumer.
The ArtsXchange of St. Petersburg — formerly known as the Warehouse Arts Enclave — is well on its way to becoming a cultural hub for Tampa Bay by its 2017 projected completion date. Since the ArtsXchange's conception in 2012, the Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) has added new board members to the team, reached its first-phase fundraising goal, and has already begun phase two of fundraising ahead of schedule. WADA is “moving quickly” with its campaign to redefine St. Petersburg as a cultural art center, and has already raised “approximately $530,000 of the roughly $1.1 million” needed to complete the project.
For their first event of phase two fundraising, WADA raised $180,000 toward the project alone — through a private event hosted by Rococo Steak. All proceeds went toward the development of the ArtsXchange, since WADA is a nonprofit organization.
The group expects more money to be raised in the upcoming future, with the board president of WADA, Mark Aeling, saying, “The St. Pete community has recognized the potential of this project and are coming together to help further advance St. Petersburg as a worldwide arts destination.”
To further promote art, WADA also plans on controlling the rent for studio space at the ArtsXchange. Artists working for this community will no longer “be challenged” to find acceptable studio space at a decent price, and will not have to worry about rent increases once an area of the city becomes “desirable.”
Aeling has already signed the contract for the purchase of the Ace Recycling Compound on the corner of 22nd Street South and 5th Avenue South on behalf of WADA. This “2.75 acre site with 50,000 square feet of warehouse space” will be remodeled into various studio centers for the project.
Smaller studios will be available for photographers, graphic designers, painters, etc. The larger studios will be reserved for metalworkers, sculptors, and other mixed media artists. Currently, 130 local artists have shown interest in renting studio space, and have been put on a waiting list until the development is completed.
The ArtsXchange will also offer a sculpture garden, gallery and exhibit space, ongoing programs in classrooms, and even a microbrewery and cafe that will be open to the public.
As WADA goes forward with phase two of its fundraising, the board has effused gratitude toward those who have gotten the project this far.
“We continue to be grateful,” Aeling said, “to the businesses, existing and new board members and donors who are giving their time, services and money to make this exciting project a reality.”
For more information or to donate to the ArtsXchange, please visit warehouseartsenclave.org.