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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

From the Dept of No Shit, Sherlock

posted by on December 6 at 18:37 PM

Apparently ConWorks is dead. Who knew?

ConWorks - press release - 12-06-06 (80089715).jpg


SEATTLE, WA, December 6, 2006. Consolidated Works announces with regret that it will cease operations at the end of the year. The organization announced this past summer that it was unable to renew the lease for its warehouse space due to seismic improvements required to be made to the building. Later, it had to let go of its staff while efforts were made to find a formula to relocate and carry the organization forward. Unfortunately, those efforts have proved unsuccessful.

Allena Gabosch, President of ConWorks, observed, “This is a very difficult time for arts organizations. We see institutions like Empty Space Theatre closing after more than 30 years of operation, and we hear from other arts organizations that they too are considering closing. ConWorks has been at a standstill for several months now, and restarting the organization in the present climate seems less practical than throwing support to others in the hope that they will survive this period.”

ConWorks takes this opportunity to thank the many artists, staff members, donors, volunteers, and audience members who have supported the organization over the years. ConWorks is thankful to have had the opportunity to add to the cultural fabric of Seattle and the Northwest.

A couple of thoughts:

1. ConWorks comparing (even tangentially) its own rise and fall to that of Empty Space is nauseatingly arrogant. The difference in impact and scope and long-term community value and plain old longevity—not only aren’t they playing in the same ballpark, they’re not even playing the same goddamned game.

2. What “support” will ConWorks be “throwing” the rest of the arts community? It sold off its assets in a motherfucking garage sale.

To exit on a note of false benevolence and relevance is worse than just slipping out the door without saying goodbye.

RSS icon Comments


Quelle Surprise!

Posted by flamingbanjo | December 6, 2006 7:24 PM

I hope ConWork's board is proud of itself. They forced the founding director out, and it was all down hill from that point. The collapse of ConWorks can be traced to the firing of Matthew Richter. Shame on them.

Posted by TKS | December 6, 2006 7:30 PM


Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 6, 2006 8:17 PM

TKS: No doubt the board is packed with fuckwads, but I say it was all downhill before Richter's ouster. The collapse of ConWorks should be traced to the founding of ConWorks.

Posted by Pilless | December 6, 2006 8:40 PM

I hope at least a few Con Works board members fully understand their folly. They killed a great organization when they ousted Richter. Con Works should have had a great run of at least 30 years. It is simply a tragedy.

Posted by Bucky | December 6, 2006 9:26 PM

I hope at least a few Con Works board members fully understand their folly. They killed a great organization when they ousted Richter. Con Works should have had a great run of at least 30 years. It is simply a tragedy.

Posted by Bucky | December 6, 2006 9:26 PM

Dear Non-Profit Boards Of Seattle:

If, in the future, any prospective board member mentioned they previously served on the ConWorks board, kindly show them the door - before they ruin your organization too.

Posted by COMTE | December 6, 2006 9:45 PM

Non-Profit Arts Boards are not consequential advocates for the migrant artists who work for them. These Trustees are usually so focused on the survival of the institution, and enthralled by its continuation as an organization, they neglect the artists and lose track of the reason for existence in the first place.

Posted by Laurence Ballard | December 6, 2006 10:30 PM

Totally agree with the person who said that the whole thing died when Richter was fired. He was the best thing that ever happened to conworks.
It makes me sick to see all the spaces in seattle that nobody has access to.
They just sit there, empty , waiting for some rich guy to buy it and turn it into.... surprise...
more condos !

Posted by Dorothy | December 7, 2006 12:37 AM

Wow Brendan, nothing like an unbiased report. Something tells me you are a friend of Matthew's or got jilted off a ConWorks guest list for one of their parties.

Posted by Jeff | December 7, 2006 9:37 AM

Neither, Jeff. I'm not a Richter partisan and I've never felt personally slighted by the organization—but it isn't about that. It's about the way ConWorks has done business in the Seattle arts community.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | December 7, 2006 9:54 AM

The organization appears not to have had a sustainable mission and Board Member recruitment/selection was obviously poor as well.

Plus, it appears that ConWorks did not have sustainable sources of funding and didn't have a base of support that was sizable enough to uphold the organization.

None of this has anything to do with the perennial cries of lack of support for the arts community (please, this town is very generous toward arts organizations). By implying that the dissolution of the organization is somehow the fault of some invisible wave of apathy toward art is mere finger-pointing.

ConWorks always seemed sort of soul-less to me and more about concept of ConWorks than the actual art. They did have nice parties, though, and 14/48 was okay. Perhaps they should just transform into an event space.

As far as the demise of the organization, I'm sure there's enough blame to go around.

Posted by con | December 7, 2006 10:09 AM

Dorothy -

You are somewhat misinformed with your slam against some "rich guy" buying the land and turning it into Condos.

One of the reasons ConWorks was able to survive as long as it did was because Paul Allen's company rented the space to them in South Lake Union at WAY below market rate.

Consider this excerpt from an article in the Seattle Times written by Sheila Farr on September 13, 2002...

Also note the prophetic last comment in the article made by Richter.

Excerpt from Seattle Times - 9/13/02

Sweetheart lease

It's been more than a year since Conworks vacated its original venue at 410 Terry Ave. N. Richter had worked out an arrangement to use the space, owned by Paul Allen's Vulcan Northwest, temporarily, for an undivulged but "well below market value" sum. When Vulcan was ready to proceed with demolition of the building, Conworks got the boot. But by then its original eight-week agreement had stretched into two years.

Now Conworks has negotiated a similar, but longer-term arrangement with Vulcan at 500 Boren Ave. N. It holds a five-year lease, with a five-year renewal option, that Richter describes as "$200,000 per year below the market value of the space." He would not divulge what rate that figure is based on, or the amount they are actually paying. To help cover the cost, Conworks is subletting office space to nonprofit groups and plans to rent out a couple of art studios, and rehearsal space for local performing-arts companies.

But what about that half-million dollar investment to get the space useable? Wouldn't it have been better spent on a space with long-term potential? Richter says no.

"I like the temporary nature of things. I think groups tend to outlive their usefulness," he said. "Organizations should end, so that people can clap and go home and think about it."

Posted by try again | December 7, 2006 10:12 AM

Well, I guess I get to keep the drapes now.

Posted by The Gail Stellner Studio | December 7, 2006 10:32 AM

con @ #12:
(please, this town is very generous toward arts organizations).

Um, NO, this town is NOT supportive of its arts institutions. The larger organizations (Rep/Opera/Symphony/Ballet) get better support, but support for smaller organizations is nowhere near what I'd call generous. If you want to look at a city that values its arts groups, try Minneapolis.

Posted by pro | December 7, 2006 11:16 AM

It's Allena Gabosch that was the director, by the way, not Allen Gabosch. She's also the director of the Seattle Sex Positive Community Center, aka the Wet Spot.

Posted by Geni | December 8, 2006 12:52 PM

Right. Fixed. Thanks, Geni. Though, under the circumstances, she might prefer to keep her (correct) name out of it.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | December 8, 2006 1:06 PM

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