Petition rallying support for Arts Garage

Posted at 7:44 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 19:44:59-05

City leaders in Delray Beach have to figure out what to do with the Arts Garage.

It's a cultural hub which rents space from the city in a municipal parking garage located downtown at NE 2nd Avenue and NE 1st Street.

It puts on plays, concerts, classes, and recently added gallery space for exhibits.

It pays the city $800 per month to lease the space. The lease expires March 15. City leaders are meeting next Tuesday to decide whether to extend the lease.

Part of the agreement with the city calls on the Arts Garage to buy the space from the city by March 15 for $2.5 million.

Arts Garage leaders say they have not raised the money and have asked the city to renew the current lease.

The city commission could decide to let the lease end and then sell the space to someone else.

The Arts Garage director says the venue gives the Delray Beach economy a $2 million annual boost by attracting people from Jupiter to Miami for its events.

"Plus the quality of life is improved," says Director Alyona Ushe. "I'm confident the city leadership has the vision, and sees the big picture."

An online petition has more than 800 signatures supporting the Garage.

"We've created an arts niche for this city to help distinguish itself from a lot of these other towns up and down the coast," explains Brian Rosen, a member of the Arts Garage Board of Directors.

Critics say the Arts Garage has mismanaged its resources and funding.

A recent audit commissioned by the Community Redevelopment Agency found some red flags. An Arts Garage representative says the leadership was aware of the issues and recently hired a financial director to clear up any problems. The representative says no money was mismanaged.

The CRA gives the Arts Garage public money every year to put on educational classes. The CRA board is withholding a regularly scheduled payment until it is satisfied the financial situation of the Arts Garage is in good shape. 

One city commissioner told NewsChannel 5 he hopes both sides can work something out to keep the Arts Garage where it is.

The Arts Garage opened in April 2011.