Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer
Contemporary Craft is moving out and up.
The local arts organization announced Tuesday that it is moving to a permanent location in Upper Lawrenceville from Smallman Street in the Strip District ,a 15,000-square-foot space they have called home for more than 30 years. In June 2018, Contemporary Craft announced a deal with McCaffery Interests to move as part of the development firm’s renovation of the Produce Terminal building.
“Today marks a new beginning,” Contemporary Craft Executive Director Janet McCall said at a press conference. “We are poised at a moment of transformation.”
Slated to open in March 2020, the new space features a 2,500-square-foot exhibition space, 1,800 in flexible studio space for workshops and lectures, a 1,100-square-foot retail space and a visitor’s lounge, totaling 13,500-square-feet.
The facility costs $5.5 million, which Contemporary Craft will raise funds for, McCall said. So far, the organization has received a $1.3 million donation from Dan McCaffery of McCaffery Interests. GBBN Architects have been hired to develop plans for the new building, which will begin renovation in July 2019.
“Contemporary Craft will become the cultural gateway for Upper Lawrenceville,” Matthew Galluzzo, executive director of the Lawrenceville Corporation, said in a press release.
Founded in 1971 by Elizabeth “Betty” Rockwell Raphael, Contemporary Craft presents contemporary art through craft media by regional, national and international artists. It was awarded an Award of Distinction in 2018 by the American Craft Council — the only organization in Pittsburgh to receive this distinction.
Contemporary Craft will continue to operate out of its Strip District location until the end of 2019.
McCall says the purchase of a new space is a “sigh of relief.”
“Having a permanent home that is affordable, where you know that you’ll be able to control your costs and you won’t have to face possible loss of lease, is very important in terms of stability,” she said. “I look to the future and think with pride that this place will here and continuing [sic] to grow and flourish, and that’s a wonderful thing that we’ve accomplished.”
Deb Gross, city councilor representing Lawrenceville, said arts organizations like Contemporary Craft don’t just act as an economic builder, bringing in tourists from all over the country. They act as a community builder, uniting the people already in the neighborhood.
“We need to support them because they support us,” she said.