The journey to create a home for contemporary art in Moscow continues. For more than two years, Moscow Contemporary (MosCo) has been developing and delivering incredible programs of distinction. Our building owners, who once provided critical support, have recently and unexpectedly decided to end our business relationship. We are required to vacate the gallery at 5th & Main Street by January 31, 2024. We have tried to negotiate a new lease, negotiate the sale of the building to MosCo in attempts to stay at this crucial intersection on Main Street. We have been unsuccessful and the owners insist on vacating as they have stated they intend to sell the building in February 2024. Our current exhibit, closing December 30th, of work by Marcus Jackson will be the last exhibition in the space. The store closed its doors after the Christmas Holiday, its unique content of curated items featured over 50 local artists work from the surrounding area.
Since the first exhibit by Gerald Exline in October 2021, MosCo has benefitted from the tremendous wealth of talented artists in the PNW. The average development time for a major exhibit is three to five years, with some taking as long as ten years. Incredibly, we have created important exhibits and developed partnerships with a lead time of just months. Due to our current circumstances, unfortunately, our collaboration with the University of Idaho’s Prison Education Initiative, which was set to open mid-January, has now been halted, with the exhibit left to scramble to find a new space for this important project.
Our education programs have seen exponential growth since our opening. MosCo’s signature After School Art Program (ASAP) had 245 class slots filled in 2022. In 2023, that grew to 804. New programs have been added, including Collage Club, Animal Dances, and NSAP (No School Art Program). We just launched the Tiny Art Library in collaboration with the Latah District Library, with real potential for growth. Our summer camps grew from 44 participants in four sessions in 2022 to 77 participants in six sessions in2023. Adult workshops have also grown, including the recently added oil painting class. For now, we will continue offering ASAP and Animal Dance classes at the 1912 Center.
Since the outset, you, our community, have been a significant and impactful part of sustaining MosCo. Community donations of time, talent, and treasure have been vital to our growth. Community investment this year is 50% more than last year, and the total funding MosCo has received this year is more than three times what the previous organization raised annually. This is doubly important as MosCo is not eligible for important arts grants until after three years of programming. Eligibility for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) starts in 2024. This is what fuels ambitious exhibition projects. Eligibility for the larger organizational Idaho Commission on the Arts (ICA) categories isn’t until 2025. Does this sudden disruption impact MosCo’s potential to bring these significant investments to the community? Absolutely. Stability and growth are good indicators for grant success. This move only hampers the community achieving the levels of artistic excellence it wants and expects from its flagship arts organizations.
On the cusp of achieving ambitious goals we are now working to find a space to deliver important artistic projects for our community. Artist-run independent arts organizations are plentiful in larger urban environments, but lacking in most small towns. The variety of exhibits the gallery can support is a rarity. Combined with the vast range of educational services delivered in a town this size makes Moscow Contemporary unique across the entire United States. MosCo will continue its journey to create the premier artist-run arts organization serving artists and the community with the goal of being the best such organization in America. Moscow is a place where we believe this vision can flourish, but we need your help.
Moscow Contemporary programs will adjust to our new situation while planning for a new space. Our very popular and growing After School Art Program (ASAP) will continue in cooperation with the 1912 Center, as will the exceptional Animal Dance class.
To pledge support for Moscow Contemporary, please visit our website. We are also adding information about how much we have grown in our first years. There is a place for you to leave comments and a form to make a financial pledge toward creating a new gallery experience in Moscow. Please keep an eye out for updates on our website and social media.
Thank you, Moscow, for your continued support as we transition into a new space and plan for our future.
Since August 1, 2021, Moscow Contemporary (MosCo), an Idaho 501c3 nonprofit has been transforming the space at 414 S. Main Street into the best gallery in Idaho.
For more information:
Roger Rowley, Executive Director
Moscow Contemporary, Inc.