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Santa Fe Art Institute carves out a niche on Midtown campus

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A rendering of the Midtown Arts Alliance’s vision for its section of the Midtown site occupied previously by the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. (Courtesy of Santa Fe Art Institute)

While the city of Santa Fe solicits public input about the redevelopment of the 64-acre Midtown campus after entering into a one-year negotiating agreement with a master developer, a coalition of arts groups is advancing its vision as a tenant on the property.

The Santa Fe Art Institute, which already has a presence on the campus occupied previously by the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, has partnered with other organizations to form the Midtown Arts Alliance.

According to SFAI Executive Director Jamie Blosser, the group’s proposal is “relatively project-ready.” It would like to expand into the Marion Center, Thaw/Tishman Hall and nearby barracks, which will require some work, she said.

“We are already on the site,” Blosser said. “The Santa Fe Art Institute has a separate lease with the city that is carved out from the 64-acre property. We are very invested in a vibrant Midtown district.”

Since 1985, SFAI has supported more than 70 artists, activists and creative practitioners annually through residencies, workshops, civic engagement and innovative public events.

While there is significant community engagement work still to be done, the Midtown Arts Alliance’s vision and other proposed tenant uses of existing buildings could come to fruition ahead of other new-construction components of Midtown that will be part of a long-term plan by the city and master developer KDC Real Estate Development and Investments/Cienda Partners.

On Tuesday night, the city held a virtual meeting to take questions from the public about the redevelopment of the Midtown campus, which will include training facilities in health care, film and digital careers from Christus St. Vincent, Santa Fe Community College and the University of New Mexico, as well as affordable housing developed by Homewise for rent and purchase.

In an email blast that went out earlier this month, the Santa Fe Art Institute said it envisions Midtown Santa Fe “as a vibrant arts, culture, and creative center, with a focus on investing in local artists and regional Indigenous and Hispanic, Chicano, and Latinx communities.”

The SFAI and its partners recently received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, through the Our Town Grant, to engage the local community in developing this vision, the email said.

SFAI and its partners at Littleglobe, the UNM School of Architecture + Planning and the College of Fine Arts want to build a “cartography of creativity” for Santa Fe, with a focus on gathering stories about the experiences of those who reside in the neighborhoods adjacent to the Midtown site.

Blosser sees opportunities for community use of some facilities, as well as artist studios, offices, classrooms and maker space. In addition to engaging with neighbors, SFAI is planning outreach to local artists so that local arts and culture continues to be an integral part of the development process at the Midtown site, she said.

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