New initiative aims to transform empty storefronts into gallery space

Frustrated landlords and up-and-coming artists rejoice: A Revere Street resident is now spearheading an effort to transform empty storefronts on the Hill into new gallery space.

David Greenwold recently proposed establishing the “Roving Gallery” – a non-profit initiative that would allow landlords to donate unoccupied retail space for use as a temporary gallery. This arrangement would ideally benefit landlords by making their properties more attractive to would-be tenants, as well as artists, who would gain new visibility in the neighborhood. But once the occupied space finds a renter, the gallery then moves to the next vacant storefront. “One of the main objectives now is to find interested landlords,” Greenwold said.

Meanwhile, Greenwold has enlisted the help of Jen Matson, who organizes the annual Beacon Hill Art Walk and operates Artists Crossing – a partnership with the city that allows artists to use vacant retail space on Broomfield Street as a co-op gallery.

“This will help both artists and the neighborhood,” Matson said of the Roving Gallery. “Anything is better than an empty storefront, and [the initiative] would bring a lot of foot traffic into the neighborhood.”

Although the Roving Gallery is still in the planning stages, the proposal has already garnered support from members of the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA).

“The Civic Association is very excited about this possibility, and we support the organizers in making this vision a reality,” BHCA Executive Director Suzanne Besser said.

In addition, Greenwold said elected officials, including Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, City Council President Mike Ross, and State Rep. Marty Walz, are on board with the proposal.

Regarding the Roving Gallery, Walz said, “Using empty retail space for artists to show and sell their work is a great idea. It is a perfect blend of enlivening our streets, strengthening the local economy and promoting artists.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Roving Gallery is invited to a planning meeting at 74 Joy St. on Thursday, Oct. 7, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, e-mail [email protected].

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