The Artisan Incubator in Dunedin was initiated to help revitalize Douglas Avenue into a live and work hub for artists, and it will continue its trajectory through a new lease agreement and bold aspirations from the city commission.
Tuesday morning, the Dunedin City Ccommission approved moving forward on a deal with Orthios LLC to keep the engine going for its Artisan Incubator at 958 and 968 Douglas Ave., which supports local artists and the organizations Arc Angels and the Dunedin Fine Art Center. The commission agreed to move forward on a two-year-long lease and a one-year extension with Orthios. The current leases would stay intact.
The lease has to go before the council for final approval in September.
“It’s been a heavy lift. It’s always hard to mediate all different parties and interests,” Bob Ironsmith, director of economic, housing development and the CRA, said during the meeting, acknowledging how the city has not yet met its full vision of fully establishing an artist hub.
The incubator, which includes industrial buildings, allows the subtenants to offer classes in wood turning, stone carving, metal work and welding.
However, renowned metal artist Bill Coleman, who operates the Institute For Creative Arts at the Artisan Incubator, said he wants the Institute to eventually be absorbed by the DFAC.
“Last year, we had a net profit of $15,000. The plan is that over the next few years, we would merge with Art Center and increase the learning [opportunities] and classes that we offer in metal, wielding and blacksmith,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in incubators … but what I’m concerned about is the city’s ability to manage incubators, we tried with a business incubator and didn’t have it and here we are again today,” Dunedin Commissioner Jeff Gow said. “The Fine Art Center taking a stronger role was a missing piece [to making it truly successful].”