Update from the Directors – December, 2020
To our dear supporters and friends,
With heavy hearts, Vitek and I want to let you know that Gateway City Arts can no longer move forward as we were. We have reached the point where we just don’t have the resources and energy to try to survive. It took us 10 years to start feeling that we could make it, and then Covid took it all away. Two nights before we closed in March was such an exciting time for us as we had a FULL house. There was a sold out concert of 500 people in the Hub, a theater production with over 100 people, and Judd’s restaurant was booming. We were thrilled to feel it was really happening and the building was buzzing. We were very optimistic about our future. We are so sad that Judd’s was only open 2 months as it was really a highlight of our efforts. As you know, we closed the buildings to the public on March 12 and tried to survive with just take-out food. We limped along until July 4th when it became clear that it wasn’t working. Vitek was in the kitchen himself for all the cooking and we were down to a staff of 2 people from 40.
As the months went by, we went through our PPP loan and then Congress did nothing more to help small businesses. We depended on your generosity in the GoFundMe campaign. We are blown away by your financial support and your words of encouragement. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity. It means the world to us. We will be ending the GoFundMe campaign on Dec. 15th, as we don’t feel right about taking donations when the doors will be closing on Dec. 31. But you need to know that your donations and comments gave us hope and encouragement to keep going forward and got us to this point. Thank you.
The Small Works show is on now until the end of the month. We are exploring continuing with some sort of digital presence and will be keeping the website going until we have a clearer picture of the future.
Our future is still uncertain. IDEALLY- we would love to find a person or group of people to buy the buildings and continue GCA for the community. We would be thrilled if some young(er) creatives—energetic and excited with their own vision— continued in the space. The buildings are all there just ready to be filled. We have put our resources, hearts and sweat into creating a beautiful finished venue, and it is ready to take off.
It has been an incredible journey for both of us. We have learned a huge amount about things we never thought we would know! Plumbing, heating, tiling, construction, business, administration, legal issues, music, licensing, permitting, City government, musicians, restaurant life, etc. GCA gave us the opportunity to meet incredible people from around the country and world from famous musicians, to activists, foodies and politicians. We were thrilled to be able to hand Deval Patrick and mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan our GCA t- shirts. For Vitek, meeting Adrian Belew was a highlight of his life! We have had the amazing opportunity to be involved in the growth of Holyoke and met absolutely incredible people along the way. It has been a rich and challenging time.
Our deepest gratitude goes to our amazing staff during the 10 years. From the very beginning, we had people with us that believed in what we were doing and actually volunteered their time and expertise when we couldn’t pay very much.
We grew rapidly and will always cherish the connections we made. Not everyone that started working at GCA stayed- we certainly had our challenges- but that’s life in a social business, and for the last few years we really created more of a family than a workplace environment. We couldn’t have gotten to where we did without the incredible team we had. And we had fun doing it.
But while being deeply fulfilling, it has also been exhausting. The “new future” is almost here but it still could be months away. As I said before, we don’t have the resources or energy to start over once it is possible. The future is taking longer to get here than we ever imagined. It is time for us to move on to the next chapter in our lives and let others take over. During these years, 7 grandchildren were born, and we have not been able to see them for the last 9 months.
However, we will miss our GCA life and all that goes with it. We are grateful to the City of Holyoke-it’s an amazing community and will always have a special place in our hearts. And to each person who came to GCA for whatever reason, we hope we were able to inspire and enrich your life just a little.
We are very proud of Gateway City Arts and how it evolved. Magic happened at Gateway when we all came together.
With so much gratitude and hope for a bright and healthy future,
Lori and Vitek
thank everyone for the overwhelming response
As of today we are ending the GoFundMe campaign. Your generosity exceeded our expectations and we are forever grateful for getting to this point because of you.
Vitek and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your outpouring of support, grief, rage at the government, loss and heartfelt wishes. We are stunned by the scope of the responses and very deeply moved. I don’t think either of us realized the impact GCA had on you and it is frankly, hard to absorb. Your comments and support make our decision even more bittersweet.
These last few days have helped us to clarify our thinking about the future. We know that if at all possible, we want GCA to continue as we began it- as a Community Center/Venue/ Food destination. We will take our time to find the right people who are passionate about the arts and want to keep this gem for Holyoke and the Valley. Vitek and I aren’t leaving the area and want to assure you all that our goal is to keep GCA moving forward with our vision but adapted to new owners.
Vitek commented yesterday that this feels like when your kid is about to leave home as an almost adult. We have “raised GCA” from our passion for community and the arts and want this to remain. We will do our best to send “our baby” off to the best possible circumstances. We are already talking with like minded entrepreneurs who might be interested in the continuation of GCA.
Again, thanks to each of you for your incredible support during this time.
Lori and Vitek