StoveFactory Gallery Survives on community, Membership

With arts organizations some of the most impacted by COVID-19, the StoveFactory Gallery on Medford Street found itself in an incredibly difficult predicament this summer – closed indefinitely and still needing to pay the bills, they found unexpected and generous support from their members and the community of Charlestown.

A worker installs the new hanging system last month at the StoveFactory Gallery.

Dara Pannebaker, of the Artists Group of Charlestown (AGC), said they haven’t had any events at all in the gallery since last December, and that has put a crimp on artist members being able to sell work and pay the bills.

“We haven’t had anything at the gallery since last Open Studios in December 2019,” said Pannebaker. “We still have to pay the rent and the landlord is knocking at the door. We came up with a bunch of ideas to raise money to try to get us through the remainder of the year at least, with the hope we would have some activity even though limited.”

Member Deidre Tao, of the AGC Fundraising Subcommittee, said they first put out a letter in May to their members asking for help. Out of 30 members in the Gallery, 23 members gave a total of $3,000.

“After that we went to the community and asked the Charlestown community and our contacts to help us in a fundraiser that happened in July mostly on social media,” she said. “We raised another $4,000 through the help of the community. That spoke to the idea that the community wanted us to continue to be here and the community values our presence in the neighborhood.”

Said Pannebaker, “You don’t hear that message when you’re on the brink of going over the edge. Everyone thinks things will go on as it was, but people are thinking outside of the box to survive.”

In the meantime, late last month, the AGC was able to dip into some money left to them by late Member Donald C. Kelly. They used that money to install a new hanging system for gallery work – which will save them a ton of money in the future. Pannebaker said repairing the walls after every show can cost up to $800, and the new hanging system will prevent those costs in the future.

Now, in mid-October, the StoveFactory Gallery is able to re-open and will put up a return of the ‘Through Our Eyes’ show done by the community and Christ Church Charlestown last year. The Church was actually a major contributor to the AGC fundraiser in July, and will be the first to show work since COVID-19 hit.

It will be done with many precautions – including masks, sanitizer and occupancy limits – but will be a return to the mission of showing art work in the gallery.

The show will take place from Oct. 16-18 in the Gallery.

“I think everyone is excited about it and is glad the gallery is going to be used and art will be in the space again,” said Tao. “What we all gave to preserve, we’re seeing that mission continue here.”

Pannebaker said they hope to be able to host a show at some point before the end of the year, but that and Open Studios are all still up in the air.

“The goal for October is we want to get people down there even if they have to wait a little bit to get in,” she said.

The fundraiser for AGC is still open, and residents can give in two ways.

•Through our website: 

Click the yellow button that says “Donate” at the bottom of our home page, and it will take you to PayPal.

•By mailing a check to:

Artists Group of Charlestown

523 Medford St. 

Charlestown, MA 02129

Memo Line: Gallery Fund

AGC is a 503 c3 organization.

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