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A new Terrain: Art gallery to move into space on Monroe Street with eyes on growth and future

Terrain Gallery executive director and co-founder Ginger Ewing stands in Terrain’s new location at 628 N. Monroe St. on April 5.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Terrain Gallery executive director and co-founder Ginger Ewing stands in Terrain’s new location at 628 N. Monroe St. on April 5. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

After nearly eight years, Terrain is leaving the Cracker Building for a new home complete with gallery space, room to grow and an opportunity to share.

Located at 628 N. Monroe St., across the street from Cedar Coffee, the new space will allow leaders at the nonprofit to fulfill their dreams of building “an ecosystem of creativity from top to bottom,” executive director and co-founder Ginger Ewing said.

Starting this process, Ewing said, will be essential for future programming and community engagement, but it’s also “critically important for the preservation of cultural space for Spokane as a whole.

“We’ve been raising the alarm for several years now,” she said. “If we don’t get ahead of the curve and put policies in place that keep spaces accessible and affordable for our social and cultural sectors, Spokane is going to face very similar challenges to the San Franciscos, the Seattles and the Portlands of the world where the very people who made those cities a desirable place to live in the first place are forced out because the cost of living and working is no longer feasible.”

As housing prices continue to rise, Ewing and her colleagues at Terrain worry that a crisis is very much at hand.

“On the surface, it might not seem like the gallery move is super closely related,” she said. But the greater autonomy and visibility that the move offers will help Terrain Gallery and the artists it serves to weather the storm.

“(It) falls in line with the idea of taking distinguishable buildings in Spokane’s core and filling them with art and other creative enterprises.

“We believe very strongly that there are equitable, just and thoughtful ways to spur tourism and economic growth – artists and the arts are a key component.”

Supporting local creatives of all sorts is at the core of Terrain’s mission.

“In 2021, Terrain’s programs and events generated $949,286 in art sales and artist payments … 83% of which goes directly back into artists’ pockets,” Ewing said. Add to that the fact that Terrain hasn’t been able to organize its flagship event for two years now, that number is still a 78% increase from 2019, she said.

“I think because we do these large-scale events that attract thousands of attendees, folks think we’re a much bigger organization than we actually are,” she said. “But we’re still a very small, super-scrappy nonprofit.”

The organization consists of two full-time employees and “a handful” of employees who work at their River Park Square storefront From Here.

“So, those numbers are really a testament to a lot of hustle and deep love for, and belief in, our creative community here in Spokane,” she said.

Originally scheduled to open April 8, permit request backlogs with the city have forced the date back. The space will now host a soft opening as part of Terrain’s First Friday reception May 6, followed by a grand reopening shortly after. Terrain is currently renting the building.

But, Ewing said, they are open to investor proposals. In addition to greater visibility and autonomy, the new building offers workshop space, which will allow Terrain greater freedom in programming.

Terrain will share the building with other local nonprofits including the Center for Children’s Book Arts, Spokast and Spokane’s Workers Cooperative.

“The building will be filled with like-minded businesses, and we’ll build synergy and camaraderie amongst each other,” Ewing said.

Ewing is particularly looking forward to collaborating with Ashley Reese, the owner of the Center for Children’s Book Arts, a 2021 graduate of Terrain’s Creative Enterprise program.

Terrain is currently accepting applications for its 2022 Creative Enterprise cohort, a 12-week professional development program for artists, makers and creative businesses. Applications close May 1. For more information, visit terrainspokane.com/creative-enterprise.

“It’s really exciting to be able to partner with her in the space and support her efforts as she launches her new nonprofit business,” Ewing said.

Built in 1904, the building retains its original tin ceiling, which is on the historic register.

“We feel really proud to be able to honor the building’s history while breathing new life into its future, something we’ve done for many of the spaces we’ve occupied in the past,” Ewing said.

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