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In Delray Beach, Arts Garage move draws protest

Across South Florida, and across the country for that matter, success stories on the local performing arts scene are rare. That a city would tinker with one that has just begun to blossom is a thorny subject.

The Arts Garage in Delray Beach, which in less than two years has become a beacon of dynamic and imaginative music and theater programming for arts lovers in three counties, may have to leave its Pineapple Grove Arts District location if a city commission vote does not go its way.

The commission on Feb. 12 will consider two bids for the building that houses the Arts Garage at 180 NE First St. Each is $2.5 million, one from the Creative City Collaborative, which operates the Arts Garage, and one from the  Kanner & Pintaluga law firm.

If the city chooses the bid from the law firm, the Arts Garage would be moved to the Arts Warehouse on Northeast Third Avenue, several blocks farther away from Old School Square and Atlantic Avenue nightlife.  The law firm estimates it would employ 30 people in its new office.

Advocates for the current location of the Arts Garage contend the move would slow the impressive momentum it has generated and diminish the economic impact it has had on Pineapple Grove restaurants and shops.

In the 18 months since its debut, the Arts Garage has developed a following that routinely sells out its shows. The organization recently received two prestigious awards by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the first  production by The Theatre at Arts Garage, "Cabaret Verboten" (pictured), was nominated for four Carbonell Awards.

Arts Garage supporters plan to share their thoughts at Delray Beach City Hall on Feb. 12, gathering 30 minutes before the 6 p.m. commission meeting. Signatures are also being collected on a petition to keep the Arts Garage in its present location, where nearly 900 had signed by Tuesday morning.

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at and on Twitter at @BenCrandell.


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