Urbana artists' co-op plans fund-raisers to try to remain open

Blog Photo Eclectic, an artist co-op, is having its annual $10 sale and is planning other fund-raising events to try to remain open.

Susan Pryde, owner or director of Eclectic, formerly known as Shared Space, said construction on Race, Main and Broadway has halved sales.

“This has left us with $2,800 due in rents, and $5,700 in commissions owed to the artists,” she wrote in a mass email. “I have spoken with our artist-members and they have been very understanding, patient and supportive. But, if something drastic doesn’t happen soon, we will have to close our doors.”

Blog PhotoHence, the first step is Eclectic’s annual $10 Original Art Sale, featuring items made and donated by artists to Eclectic, through this Saturday, Aug. 10, The sale usually raises $800. At left is a $10 table, one of three or four in the co-op.

Step 2  will be a fund-raiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 27. Crane Alley will allow Eclectic to use some of its outdoor space; in case of rain, the event will move to the mezzanine inside Eclectic. That event will feature an auction of items donated by neighboring businesses, plus a silent auction, along with a cash bar, nibbles and music.

Step 3: Eclectic will create an Indi Gogo crowd funding request. Pryde hopes to post that online by next week, noting some new downtown businesses have received start-up funds via the site.

On Wednesday, Pryde, at right in the photo, was meeting outside the shop Blog Photowith Cheryle Turner, who is retired from the marketing department of  Busey. As a volunteer, Turner is helping Pryde come up with a marketing plan.

Heartland Gallery across Main Street from Eclectic also is feeling the pinch resulting from downtown street construction these past few weeks. The gallery is having a "garage sale" inside of books, glassware and other items; shop owner Jan Chandler also has marked down by 40 percent her gorgerous hand-knit sweaters from Ireland.

I went to both shops earlier today. At Eclectic, I bought for $10 a nice pair off copper earrings,  by Laura Mac Designs.

At Heartland, I found, for $5, a new 11- by 14-inch frame with an archival mat, for $5, and a book of artist affirmantions, for 50 cents.Blog Photo

Pryde wrote that she was denied a personal loan to keep Eclectic going because she does not have enough equity in her home.

“So I have regrouped and decided we aren’t going out with a whimper,” she wrote. “It’s time to put it out there and give it all we have to raise the money needed to survive this summer/fall of construction.

“When it is finally completed, things will be great downtown. The Boneyard Creek development is moving along as well. We have been looking forward to all of this for three years.

“The trick now is to stay in business long enough to enjoy all of the improvements.”

In addition to the $8,500 for rent and commissions, Eclectic needs an estimated $6,400 to cover other expenses, which means $15,000 altogether is needed to save the downtown Urbana shop.

Eclectic opened three years ago. Originally the artists who sell their work there paid $30 a month and received a 30 percent commission. Pryde will now increase that to $60 a month and a 20 percent commission.

“In this way, if there is a sudden drop in sales, we will still cover expenses,” she wrote. “Also, I hope to create a contingency fund so that we have some breathing room in the future.

“Considering, Eclectic started with virtually no capital, we did remarkably well for the first three years. We’ve learned a lot and hope to get the opportunity to put that hard-won knowledge into action.”

Eclectic is at 123 W. Main St. and on Facebook, at facebook.com/eclecticartistcoop?fref=ts.
 

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