By Jeff Maisey
Looks like Selden Arcade will not reopen to house the visual artists of d’Art Center or the second floor base of operations for the city of Norfolk’s Cultural Affairs department.
“We have learned that we will not be returning to our offices,” said Karen Rudd, manager of Norfolk’s Cultural Affairs. “We are disappointed.”
The historic arcade closed April 18 after an explosion – resulting from work being done at the adjoining hotel and conference center known as The Main – heavily damaged the building.
Since Selden Arcade closed, the Cultural Affairs office has been operating in a temporary location in the basement of the Slover Library. Resident artists from d’Art have been hosted in various locations, including Kellam Art Gallery. The artists have occasionally been allowed to return to their studio spaces within Selden Arcade, but for limited times.
Carolyn Phillips, d’Art Center’s executive director, had put the call out for new artists, most of the resident artists hoped to return, though some would share studio space. A grand re-opening was being planned for January 2016.
Phillips said she remains in the dark on the future of d’Art.
“We have not been told either way,” she said. “The city manager’s office will make that decision.”
Phillips has recently been given a tour of the former Alchemy NFK building on Granby Street in the Arts & Design district. Leading the tour was assistant city manager Ron Williams and two architects. While Phillips was not told this was where the city planned to relocate d’Art Center, Phillips said “it seemed to be implied.”
The city of Norfolk and d’Art Center have a lease agreement in which either party can decide not to extend. The lease expires in March 2016.
While Norfolk city spokeswoman Lori Crouch said no decision has been made, she did indicate the city’s desire to help the artists of d’Art.
“The city has been working with d’Art to find space,” said Crouch. “We offered space for their summer art program. We are integrating their artists into Dickens Christmas Carol (at Nauticus). A lot of private property owners have also offered space for the artists to work. This is not the end of d’Art at all. We have an arts district and the arts district partners have expressed an interest in having more artists call that home.”
Carolyn Phillips is warming to the idea of d’Art moving to the arts district, but notes she is still exploring other options.
As for the future of Selden Arcade, perhaps the logo on the glass doors foretells the answer – The Main.