Galapagos Art Space would have celebrated its 20-year anniversary in New York City next year, but the venue won't make it that long—it's set to close up shop later this month for a massive move to Detroit. Cause of relocation: rising rents.
When Galapagos moved out of their longtime Williamsburg space on North 6th Street in 2008, and into their current space in DUMBO, director Robert Elmes told us, "We love DUMBO, we’re very excited to be here and given that we were certain we were moving to Berlin, the chance to remain in New York was a godsend... growing our Williamsburg pond into a 1,600-square-foot lake has made us very happy."
Their new venue will dwarf their current home, expanding Galapagos to 10,000-square-feet, and the NY Times reports that Elmes and his wife Philippa Kaye have purchased a number of buildings in the Detroit area, totaling out at 600,000 square feet. All that for the price of “a small apartment in New York City” Elmes told them, adding, “A white-hot real estate market is burning through the affordable cultural habitat. And it’s no longer a crisis, it’s a conclusion.”
In Michigan, they hope to thrive—"to go back to the early years of our venue and to recreate the success that we had and the impact that we had on a growing community"—and by 2016 want to host a Detroit Biennial.
The last night of programming in DUMBO is December 18th. We've reached out to both Elmes and Two Trees (who own the building), and will update if we receive further comment on the move, and the future of the Brooklyn space, which is right next to the Empire Stores development.
UPDATE: Two Trees sent us this statement, "We will keep 16 Main as a building for the arts. Two Trees has long supported and promoted the art and cultural community in DUMBO with free and below market rents and we will continue to do so. We wish Galapagos all the best moving forward in Detroit."
When we asked why the rent was raised, they told us, “Galapagos’ lease ended last year and we maintained their significantly below market rate beyond their lease. The move to Detroit is a significant step for Robert Elmes to bring his goal of sustainable funding for artists and arts venues to life."