Staten Island Arts Space at Ferry Terminal Raises Funds For June Opening

By Nicholas Rizzi on May 23, 2014 8:21am 

Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge Kickstarter
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Staten Island Arts

ST. GEORGE — A group of artists planning to open an exhibition space and market at the St. George Ferry Terminal next month is trying to raise cash to make the project happen.

The 2,500-square-foot Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge plans to showcase international and local artist and host a store where visitors can purchase goods.

While they've already received funds from former Borough President James Molinaro and other agencies, the group took to Kickstarter last week to raise the final $11,000 to put the finishing touches on the space.

"We're using this funding to kind of tie up those last needs to outfit it," said Monica Valenzuela, deputy director of Staten Island Arts who started the campaign.

"Everything from the dry wall to light fixtures, and the actual plywood that's in the office."

The space, which has been in the planning stages for two years, aims to stop what Staten Island Arts calls "The Ferry Cycle": where tourist take the boat from Manhattan then immediately catch the next one without stepping foot outside the terminal.

"Cultivating the Culture Lounge as a destination so that people take the Ferry to go there would be the ultimate goal," Valenzuela said.

"What if we could make them miss one boat?"

The market will stock jewelry made from local companies, clothing from Richmond Hood Company and postcards of the ferry drawn by artists, Valenzuela said.

The project, which already raised nearly $6,000, will give donors the chance to get shout-outs from the group on social media, exclusive branded Field Notes and T-shirts and tickets to the VIP opening on June 5.

And for $1,000, up to two backers can get their portrait stenciled by local artist Kevin Mahoney. They'll get to keep a copy of the stencil and the other will hang in Staten Island Arts new offices in the Culture Lounge, Valenzuela said.

The space is expected to open to the public on June 7, with an exhibit on sustainable living by Staten Island artist Tattfoo Tan, which includes live demonstrations on how to care for chickens.

Valenzuela said the group has two years of programming planned for the gallery space, with each running for eight weeks.

The space will also be available to rent and the council will make it available for free for  two community groups a month, Valenzuela said.

Aside from attracting tourists and commuters to take the time to visit the space, Valenzuela said the other goal of the Culture Lounge is to serve as a model for other arts councils to get out from the underground.

"Local arts councils are usually in the basement of a building," she said. "We're definitely trying to create this model for arts councils. Bringing that to the street level, especially to a transportation hub."

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