For longtime downtown arts center, success means it's harder to - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

For longtime downtown arts center, success means it's harder to make ends meet

Sandy Pohl Sandy Pohl
Rich Richardson Rich Richardson
Bradley Rhea Bradley Rhea
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It's another First Friday in the downtown Arts District. And the Arts at Marks Garage is still at the center of it. However, First Friday has changed, and so has funding for the longtime community arts center.

Over 13 years, First Friday has helped to transform the area into a gathering place, with locally-owned art galleries like the Louis Pohl Gallery.

"When I was on Hotel Street, we used to have two-thousand people walk in the front door on a First Friday. That was huge," said Sandy Pohl. "Today, in this space, we get about five hundred."

Even with the lower numbers, First Friday has been a success. So much so that financial support from the city and state has dried up.

"It was very progressive, I think, for the city and for Hawaii Tourism Authority to invest in programs like First Friday that would create major change in the area, but now they're saying, I think, their work is done," said Rich Richardson, executive director for Arts at Marks Garage.

Richardson said the center is awaiting another grant from the state to come in. But until it does, it needs to come up with $10,000 before the end of the month to stay open.

"Right now we've got this dry patch, and we're scrambling to make ends meet," he said.

First Friday now gets busy after 10 p.m., when people start showing up at the nightclubs and restaurants along Hotel Street. And there are no longer as many art galleries. But the neighborhood has been transformed, with locally-owned stores like Barrio Vintage, which sells vintage clothing next door to the arts center.

"The Arts at Marks has been such a neat, sort of pivotal point for Chinatown. It's very central, I think people recognize it," said Barrio Village owner Bradley Rhea.

Richardson is hoping that those who've visited or performed at Arts at Marks Garage will pitch in to keep it going.

"Developing a community around the arts is a very healthy thing for our community, and we want to see it continue," he said.

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