Warwick Center for the Arts could be forced to move locations

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — The future of the Warwick Center for the Arts is uncertain. The city needs more office space after a pipe burst in City Hall last year. Now the mayor is considering moving next door to the armory where the gallery has been for more than 40 years.

Mayor Solomon tells ABC 6 News he’s not putting the center out on the street. But, the options he’s presented essentially could shut the art center down.

The armory next to Warwick City Hall has been home to the Center for the Arts for decades. Now, its future there is uncertain.

“Relocating would really alter our existence as an organization as we are currently and could be detrimental to us,” says Taylor Terreri, the director.

Mayor Solomon is considering using the space as offices for city employees who were pushed out of City Hall after a pipe burst there. Solomon says he’s not kicking the arts center out but if they want to stay, they’ll have to pay.

“If its going to cost the taxpayers ‘a’ to house offices somewhere, then all I want to do is collect ‘a’ from the arts center,” says Mayor Joe Solomon.

But for decades the organization has been paying $1 a year in rent. If they have to use part of their $65,000 annual budget for rent, their services will suffer.

“We do adult art classes and we also do outreach programs where we send our teaching artists out to other community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club or the Warwick Schools,” says Terreri.

Those programs have made an impact on the community.

Judi Connery started taking classes with her 87 year old mom when they wanted to get out of the house more.

“I saw a whole new side of my mother come back, not really a new side, an old side come back. She socialized, she was creative,” says Connery. She thinks even if the center decided to relocate it would be hard to capture the feeling this building holds.

“I’m a taxpayer, I care about money but I also have seen how the arts are always the ones to take the hit,” says Connery.

The center also has grant money they currently can’t touch because it requires they have a 5 year lease. If they were to relocate they’d likely have to reapply for grant money to renovate a space.

© WLNE/ABC 6 2019