Despite the explosion of rumours, speculation, fear, anger and other emotions that ran through Boston last week, the big news is that there is actually NO news. Green Street Gallery will remain open, with the full support of the city and their management company, and will continue to show new work by emerging artists.
The confusion began with the arrival of a form letter, stating that the lease was up and asking when the gallery would be vacated. This led to a series of rapid-fire phone calls, the involvement of Cate McQuaid of the Boston Globe, and an ultimately happy and reasonable conclusion.
Perhaps the response to the form letter was a bit of an overreaction, but the sting from the loss of three alternative spaces in 2004 is still fresh for many. The loss of Green Street would be disastrous for new artists and the alternative scene, and this little scare makes it clear how much support and encouragement our small indie scene needs to survive, and how fragile it can be.
Below is the full story, written by Green Street's James Hull.
Tuesday Morning, as news spread of the imminent closing of the Green Street Gallery, Boston Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid contacted Penn Moulton, the original contact James Hull had with Transit Retail Partnership (TRP) a firm that managed many of the “retail” properties owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Moulton and her associates were managers of the Green Street space for the first 4 years and helped the Gallery with MBTA negotiations and the signing of the most recent 3 year lease. Over a year ago, Transit Realty Association (TRA) became the managing party for the Green Street Gallery Space and many others previously managed by TRP but had not communicated directly with the gallery concerning the lease expiration.
When Moulton learned she was being interviewed for an article in the Globe about the Gallery regarding the closing of the space she had helped launch, she called Hull and then mediated on behalf of the Gallery with her colleagues at TRA. Moulton, familiar with the capital spent by the Gallery in order to gain the 3 year lease ( the purchase and installation of a Central Air Conditioning system and a Bathroom), as well as the community services, cultural benefits and public safety that the gallery provides, requested that her colleagues at TRA contact and discuss the status of the Gallery at Green Street with Gallery Director James Hull by phone.
Hull was soon contacted by Tom Clark of TRA who said that the written communications received by Green Street were generic, year end forms that they use to gather information on properties they manage. He said the confusion was understandable because of the timing and insisted that the Gallery was not being asked to vacate. One of these letters that specifically inquired about the date the property would be vacated and mentioned the expiration of the lease ( December 31, 2005) was discussed in detail. Clark specifically offered to use the “holding over clause” that was in the original lease agreement to keep the Gallery from closing and voiced his support for keeping the existing agreement going for at least the next year. Clark also explained the details of the 30 day notice that this “holding over” involves and mentioned the potential benefits and shortcomings of that status and the process of negotiating a new lease through a Public Bid process.
Both Penn Moulton and Tom Clark mentioned the commitment of the MBTA to support the community that it serves with inexpensive or subsidized rents for non-profit organizations and mentioned STRIVE at the Ruggles station and others as examples of other spaces the MBTA provides for good public uses. Clark closed the conversation by saying he would send a letter to this effect and contact Hull by the end of this week. This was the first conversation between the new management and Green Street’s director since the change of management and bodes well for Green Street Gallery’s future.
The potential public attention that Boston Globe Arts columnist, Cate McQuaid, brought to bear on the situation expedited the communications between all interested parties. Penn Moulton’s (TRP) historical knowledge of the Green Street Gallery organization quickly put the new management team (TRA) and the Gallery director on the same page. Additionally the supportive efforts of others in the arts community who made calls and e-mails of support informed many of the political leaders of the looming crisis at Green Street. Kathleen Bitetti (Artists Foundation) was assisted by the office of Senator Steven Baddour and his office has contacted the MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas in support of the Green Street Gallery.
The Green Street Gallery would like to sincerely thank everyone who has written letters of support or advocated of behalf of the gallery. Your support has helped demonstrate the broad audience that is served by Green Street and was significant to our negotiations.