Above: Supporters came out for a Soap Factory event in 2013. (Photo by Chris Kelleher, Special to the Star Tribune)
The Soap Factory, a 30-year-old experimental arts organization in Minneapolis, will now reopen in mid-2019. It was originally scheduled to reopen May 5, but that date was pushed up to Oct. 28. This is the third rescheduled opening.
Executive Director Bill Mague cited the impact of the December 2017 tax law on the building's financing and construction completion for the most recent opening date change. The tax law inserted uncertainty into the lending markets, causing delays in getting projects approved and financed because people were not sure what would happen.
“Owning a 130-year-old building that needs $6 million worth of work is not an insignificant hurdle even for a 30-year-old organization,” said Mague, when reached by phone. “We don’t live in a society that values arts enough. It’s been an extraordinary project.”
Mague noted that the tax credit changes for historic rehabilitation buildings in particular caused “a hiccup that nobody anticipated.” He said that the organization had been reacting to that, and now they’re feeling confident that they can get the construction underway.
The organization is set to resume construction this fall, and to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.
The Board decided to reschedule all of the 2018-2019 programs to late 2019 and 2020. They will announce a new program schedule this winter.
Amidst the rehabilitation of the historic building, the Soap also hired their new artistic director Ellie Kevorkian in June 2018. She was previously at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.
Even though nothing has reopened, Kevorkian is still on the payroll. She is currently traveling often to New York, where she has been out networking on behalf of the Soap Factory. Mague said that she has also been “getting the lay of the land" and making connections in Minneapolis. Kevorkian will have a significant influence on the 2019-2020 exhibition calendar.
Housed in an old factory near the downtown riverfront at 514 SE 2nd St., the organization serves as a creative hub for visual artists. It has been on hiatus since the end of 2015, with sporadic off-site programming since then. It has been undergoing administrative, financial and physical changes with a focus on long-term stability.