Fayetteville Underground to seek new home

Photo by Todd Gill
Guests mingle inside Fayetteville Underground during First Thursday in October 2010. Glass artist Ed Pennebaker’s work was on display inside the E-Street Gallery that month.

After occupying the basement level of the downtown square’s East Square Plaza building for more than two years, Fayetteville Underground will soon be seeking a new home.

In a news release sent out Thursday afternoon, officials said the visual arts gallery’s board has decided not to renew its lease learned that its lease would not be renewed (see comment below from Megan Chapman) at the end of its current term “in light of ongoing development plans and efforts to repurpose parts of the East Square Plaza building.”

East Square Plaza is owned by Ted and Leslie Belden who have offered to sell a majority of the building to the City of Fayetteville as a new or expanded City Hall.

According to the release, the gallery’s lease expires January 15, 2012.

“First and foremost, we wish to express our sincere thanks and deep gratitude to the Beldens,” said board president Steve Aust. “They have been our lead benefactors since inception, and the Fayetteville Underground’s impressive successes to date are due in large part to their generosity.”

Aust said the board welcomes any support that the community has to offer during its search for a new home

East Square Plaza

“The board has been working on strategic planning for some time now, and we have recognized the possibility existed that we may need to consider alternate locations,” he said. “We are currently exploring multiple options and would welcome input from the community. As with any non-profit organization, community engagement and support is essential, and we look forward to working with supporters as we launch this next phase of our development.”

Fayetteville Underground is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is currently home to 15 artist studios, as well as four galleries. Each month, the gallery hosts four new exhibitions, with monthly opening night artist receptions held in conjunction with downtown Fayetteville’s First Thursday art walk.

“The Fayetteville Underground is a unique and special place,” said Megan Chapman, artistic co-director and studio artist. “Our studio environment provides a sense of support and community to our artists that not only encourages but inspires. The greater community benefits from this by getting a rare glimpse into the process of working artists, serving to demystify the arts and educate the public in the process. When you combine this component with the local, regional, national and international exhibitions, the Fayetteville Underground is unparalleled for what it brings to the community and the state. We are a rare gem and we are immensely proud of what we have accomplished.”

Statewide, the gallery has helped establish Fayetteville as a top destination for the arts. As part of the state’s 175th birthday celebration, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s official website Arkansas.com conducted a poll to establish the “175 Top Places to Visit” in Arkansas. Fayetteville Underground was voted #22, making it the city’s highest ranked attraction on the list.