Intermedia Arts has closed the books on a crippling financial crisis, completing the sale of its south Minneapolis home for about $3.5 million.
RightSource Compliance, a Minneapolis-based company that describes itself as “the Wikipedia of affordable housing,” bought the buildings and parcel at 2822 Lyndale Av. S. It plans to move its 62 employees into the building after renovations, said CEO/founder Chris Voss.
Intermedia, an arts organization and venue that served an estimated 25,000 people annually, was forced to lay off its entire staff 14 months ago and eventually put the property up for sale. After clearing its obligations, including a growing debt in excess of $1 million, the organization will have more than $1 million left, according to Omar Akbar, co-chair of its board of directors.
“It’s not some great victory or anything, but given where we were, we’re happy that we’re no longer collecting debt,” said Akbar.
As to whether the organization has a future, “I simply don’t know,” he said. Currently, Intermedia is in the process of meeting obligations to former staff and creditors after closing the deal earlier this month. “Whether it’s the granting of money and then dissolution, or something else, we’re going to figure that out,” he said.
While the neighborhood has seen lots of teardowns and apartment/condo construction, RightSource’s CEO said there are no plans to raze the building and erect something new. He also intends to maintain the colorful murals that made Intermedia a landmark.
“Our goal is that that space will afford our team an ability to grow,” Voss said. “And we are a good fit for the neighborhood. A lot of us live in south Minneapolis, and for me, the office is only a 10-minute bike ride on the [Midtown] Greenway.”
He said RightSource “has been growing year over year, doubling in size,” and he expects it to add more than 100 jobs in the next two to three years.
A mainstay of the Twin Cities scene for 44 years, Intermedia provided opportunities for young people in art, video, dance and writing, and was a haven for people of color and LGBT artists.
Akbar said Intermedia’s board is thinking not only about how best to serve Intermedia but to serve the arts community in general.
Some of the organization’s programs have migrated elsewhere. One former staffer, actor/playwright Sha Cage, launched a new group called Catalyst Arts to continue Intermedia’s mission of mixing art and activism.
“My hope is that the legacy of the work that was done there lives on and that many of the people who were using the space find homes,” said Cage, who was Intermedia’s curator for visual and performing arts. “My biggest desire is that the traditionally underrepresented communities that we serve are not displaced.”
Her husband, filmmaker, theater artist and writer E.G. Bailey, said Intermedia was instrumental in his growth as an artist.
“Intermedia was a grounding space for community,” he said. “It takes a long time to build something like that, and I want such open, welcoming spaces to be available to young people coming up now.”