The Duluth Art Institute enriches daily life with dynamic, innovative visual arts programming that upholds excellence and promotes inclusive community participation.

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Urgent: DAI Must Move Galleries By May 1

The Duluth Art Institute is about 1/3 the way to our $50,000 to use for our upcoming move.  We have identified three spaces and are working on the details of each before we decide.  We will be sure to let you know the decision once it is made.

The vacate date remains May 1, 2024. This campaign will help with moving costs and the buildout to set up gallery spaces (packing, walls, lighting, reinstallation).

St. Louis County informed the DAI that it may no longer occupy the Depot space that has been home to our galleries for half a century. The County Selection Committee rejected the DAI Bid for Leased Space citing concerns about using the space for galleries, HVAC updates, and their desire to use it themselves for programming, in addition to the proposed rate for the lease. In a county board meeting August 1, the SLC Board approved an extension to May 1, 2024.

Maintaining our planned exhibition program through the remainder of 2023 and all of 2024 is our top priority. No upcoming exhibitions have been cancelled. To see the schedule of upcoming exhibitions, click here.

Our Lincoln Park Building is used to capacity, serving studio artists and art learners. It is not an option for gallery space.

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DAI Press Conference 7/27/23

Duluth Art Institute response to County Selection Committee recommendation to reject 2024 lease proposal

St. Louis County Board meeting 8/1/23

Includes public & board comments, vote to accept County Selection Committee recommendation to reject DAI proposal, extension of DAI's 2023 lease to May 1, 2024


Duluth News Tribune  |  Local View: Booting art institute from Depot is just bizarre  |  July 30, 2023

"This space is necessary to artists here who wish to develop a professional career. Such professional careers are worth as much respect as those of, say, miners or airplane assemblers: The nonprofit arts and culture sector generates more than $1 billion in total economic impact annually in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota State Arts Board, half of this outside of the Twin Cities. St. Louis County has a higher percentage of working artists in its population than any other county in the state, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts determined."

Star Tribune  |  After 50 years, Duluth Art Institute could be leaving its home at historic Depot  |  July 29, 2023

"A selection committee has recommended that St. Louis County reject the arts organization's proposal for a lease extension."

FOX 21  |  Duluth Art Institute May Be Forced to Move  |  July 26, 2023

"The Executive Director of the Duluth Art Institute says the art organization was a charter tenant of the building. She says if it is forced to move by the end of the year there will be problems. Those issues would start at the end of the year when the Gallery has a two-month exhibit scheduled to begin in December and runs through January."

WDIO  |  Duluth Art Institute may have to leave The Depot  |  July 24, 2023

"'It is regrettable that the County fails to see value in the inclusion of the Duluth Art Institute in the offerings at the Depot, especially given our 116-year history as the region’s premier visual arts organization,' said DAI Executive Director Christina Woods."

Duluth News Tribune  |  County may reject Duluth Art Institute's Depot lease  |  July 23, 2023

"The Duluth Art Institute is looking for new exhibit space after county officials recommended the board reject a proposal by the nonprofit to renew its space in the St. Louis County Depot."

PRESS RELEASE  |  County Committee Rejects DAI Bid for Lease Renewal at Depot  |  July 21, 2023

DAI Fact Sheet on St. Louis County RFP Process

Q: Why did the DAI not offer the County's required amount in its bid?

A: Our rate for many years until the RFP process was abruptly instituted last year was $1.20 per square foot. The RFP process was imposed on the DAI despite clear language in the statute (373.01. Subd.1 b) that organizations our size were exempt, specifically: "Leases and proposals that do not exceed $15,000 for any one year may be negotiated and are not subject to the competitive bid procedures of this section." Our lease amount prior to the current year fell squarely below that threshold.

Nonetheless, after negotiation last year for the 2023 lease, we agreed to a rate of $3.50 - a 191.67% increase. For 2024, the county has stated the required rate is $4.97. Since last year's rate was reached by negotiation, it would make no business sense to have committed to it before engaging in negotiation. We also clearly stated in our offer to them that we are open to negotiation. We still are.

Q: The County states that the "DAI's use and expectations relative to traffic and work within the requested space do not align with the required ingress/egress nature of the requested space" and that the "DAI has been occupying and proposed to continue using includes a balcony, stairwell and elevator" for its galleries.

A: Our proposal included the continued use of the gallery spaces as they have been for our entire half-century in the building, and which the County approved last year when it first imposed the RFP process.

If the County plans to change the infrastructure, it is incumbent upon them to tell us of the designated reconfigured space and use, just as it would be the responsibility of a landlord to alert a tenant of an intended change of a bathroom to a kitchen. In effect, the county is stating that the spaces they have offered to us - presumably in good faith - are no longer suitable for galleries.

Q: The County states the RFP process has been in place for more than a year and that the DAI should have known about the lease rate.

A: Although we participated in the RFP process both in 2022 and this year, the County has failed to explain why the statute is suddenly being enforced, given that previous County Attorneys Mitchell, Rubin and Ford did not enforce it. We also will reiterate that every historical account and continued understanding of the development of the old Union Depot as the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center is that it was created and .in perpetuity exists as a venue for the arts subsidized by the public as an amenity for the community, not as a money-making venture for the county.

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