Sales down 95 percent, a once-booming Volcano art gallery struggles to stay afloat

VOLCANO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been 18 days since Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed, making it the longest shutdown of the park ever.

And there's no telling when it will reopen.

Explosions continue at Kilauea's summit crater, sending out plumes of ash.

For businesses on park property, the shutdown hasn't just been a slowdown — it's meant they can't operate.

So now some are relocating in hopes of staying open.

Shortly after the closure of the park, the director of Volcano Arts Center started moving some of their pieces to their executive offices on Old Volcano Road.

"Even though this is just a small portion of what we have, we have great things," said Mike Nelson, at the temporary showroom. "It's just trying to keep activity going."

The gallery displays work from about 250 local artists. Last year, their commission topped out at almost a million dollars.

But right now sales are down a whopping 95 percent.

"Those artists we send all of our commission checks to have families," Nelson said. "They in turn are paying for gas, paying for mortgages and they're all at a standstill. In limbo."

In the meantime, the arts center is continuing its free workshops in an effort to draw both visitors and kamaaina to Volcano.

But Nelson says so far only a handful of people have shown up.

Abigail Maynard, who is visiting from Virginia, was among those who visited the center on a recent weekday.

"It's still such a special place and there's still a lot to do even if you're not in the national park," said Maynard. "Every shop that we go into, every restaurant, every store. People are really appreciative of us being here which makes our decision to come here even better."

With no way to know when the park might reopen, Nelson said his goal is to continue adding artwork to this impromptu gallery.

"We're open for business," said Nelson. "It's a limited amount of space but it's a space where we can keep the flow going."

You can also browse the artwork clicking here.

This story will be updated.

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