‘We really need the support’: A popular Chinatown arts center faces possible closure

‘We really need the support’: A popular Chinatown arts center faces possible closure

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - From music and theatrical presentations to art exhibits, The ARTS at Mark’s Garage has provided an outlet for creative people since 2001.

The Chinatown site attracts 45,000 people a year to its shows. But the community arts center is in crisis and may have to close its doors.

"Nobody wants to see the theater district without this theater or the arts district without this gallery," Donna Blanchard said.

The ARTS at Mark’s is $40,000 in debt, most of it from unpaid employment taxes that Blanchard discovered when she took over as consulting director.

"I found out that there was a lot more debt than anyone in the organization knew about," she said.

Professional photographer Kim Taylor Reece and other artists have rushed to the art center’s aid, organizing fundraisers and awareness campaigns.

"We really need the support," Reece said. "If the people could just come down and be a part of this it would be really great."

Blanchard said The ARTS at Mark's worked out a payment plan with the IRS, but until the tax debt is cleared it can't apply for grants -- a key funding source for art organizations.

“Right now we are trying to survive off earned income. And that’s hard,” she said.

Kumu Kahua Theatre's Donna Blanchard and photographer Kim Taylor Reece are organizing an effort to save The ARTS at Mark's Garage. The non-profit is $40,000 in debt and in need of donations to stay afloat.
Kumu Kahua Theatre's Donna Blanchard and photographer Kim Taylor Reece are organizing an effort to save The ARTS at Mark's Garage. The non-profit is $40,000 in debt and in need of donations to stay afloat. (Source: Image: Hawaii News NOw)

Blanchard said all monetary donations are welcome, but she really hopes one donor comes through and contributes $50,000 so The ART at Mark’s can clear the tax bill and have some breathing space.

Reece said if the center goes under the arts community will suffer.

“It’s a really good place for actors and artists to spread their wings and get some attention,” he said.

Blanchard now volunteers with the non-profit. She said the worst case scenario has the space closing by the end of year if donors don’t come through.

“We’re hopeful and we’re being realistic,” she said.

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