The Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center will return to the Arts District in 2017, moving from its longtime location on North Boundary Street into a space formerly inhabited by the gallery.
Earlier this year, unable to afford two buildings, the organization closed its art education center in the "Blue Building" at 110 Westover Ave., said board president Janis Wood.
The gallery remained at 219 N. Boundary St., leased from Colonial Williamsburg since 1982, but with that agreement set to end Dec. 31, the contemporary art center began the search for a new space.
"I just kept thinking about that blue building," Wood said. "I kept thinking: well, if we made that our headquarters and treated it differently, that could be a really cool space."
Having signed a lease with Brooks Real Estate, the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center has begun moving back to the Blue Building, opening to the public Jan. 31 with the center's annual High School Art Show.
"We're very happy to be in the Arts District," said Apryl Altman, the center's artistic vice president. "We feel that this move is going to be great for our artists and for the public."
The main 1,600-square-feet space will house two galleries and offices, while a 415-square-foot building in the back will become the new art education center.
"We have plans to rehab the interior and make it a really sleek gallery," Wood said.
Altman especially looks forward to having the entire operation on one floor. The North Boundary Street building had two levels, the upstairs of which housed the center's Members Gallery.
The Members Gallery will continue in a room of the Blue Building. A second, larger room will house the main gallery.
"We're focusing now this coming year on more local artists," Wood said. "In the past, we've had regional art shows."
"We have great artists here in town, and we want to provide opportunities for them. We want to be more community based."
Thus, the center hopes to develop a "co-operative" concept, where four to six artists can each rent a section of the main gallery for a period, essentially presenting their own individual shows.
The center's "For Art's Sake" fundraiser in November raised around $15,000 and, coupled with donations and a new business plan, Wood expects rent will be covered through the first quarter.
She also expects the Art Education program to re-launch in spring.
"We're all very excited," Wood said. "It's a positive feeling, moving to the Blue Building. It's not anything other than that."
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.