Duluth Art Institute may have to leave The Depot

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The Duluth Art Institute may have to leave its longtime home at The Depot. A county committee has rejected the non-profit’s lease proposal, which is to be recommended to the county board.

The DAI is actively searching for other potential studio spaces.

St. Louis County says the decision should not come as a surprise to DAI.

In a statement, the county tells WDIO , “For almost a year, the county has been transparent with tenants that the required minimum rental rate for 2024 proposals would be $4.97/square foot. This was also clearly stated in the RFP. DAI offered $3.61/square foot.” This number is based on operating costs.

All the organizations at the Depot had to submit a ‘request for proposal’ in the spirit of transparency and per state statute.

Robin Washington, Board President of the Duluth Art Institute, says they are willing to negotiate, “We’re not going to begin negotiation by telling you we agree to the amount to be negotiated. There’s no business in the world that would do that.”

The other issue includes the use of the space.

St. Louis County tells WDIO, “It has become clear DAI’s expectations and needs for using and securing their space does not mesh with the requirements of the space. This is something that has become apparent since the County took over management of the building.”

Meanwhile the departure of the DAI from the The Depot is upsetting to many community members.

“It is regrettable that the County fails to see value in the inclusion of the Duluth Art Institute in the offerings at the Depot, especially given our 116-year history as the region’s premier visual arts organization,” said DAI Executive Director Christina Woods.

“Nonetheless, this is an exciting opportunity, especially given our existing programs and community involvement at our own Lincoln Park building, which is used at capacity.”