The piece of paper allows Five Points to raise funds and accept tax-deductible donations. Most importantly, the gallery can now apply for grants to help it operate, for capital projects or to start new programs in the gallery or city.
Judith McElhone, executive director of Five Points Gallery, also sees the nonprofit status as an opportunity to get more people interested in art.
“Primarily, the goal is to help people understand the gallery is their gallery,” she said. “We are a resource for the area. Obviously, it’s nice when we sell art, but the quality professional contemporary art we have here is a resource for all of northwestern Connecticut.”
McElhone wouldn’t say how large Five Point’s operating budget is, but it’s not big. The gallery relies on volunteers, from board members to window cleaners.
One of McElhone’s first goals is to start a payroll to begin compensating core staff members. McElhone said she won’t accept one cent until that happens.
“They give tremendous amount of time and effort because they believe art uplifts lives, it’s good for downtown and it’s good for the city. Most are involved because they care,” McElhone said.
While its budget will expand with a payroll, the gallery already has grown in size in the first two years.
It was first located in the corner spot at Water and Main streets, and expanded last year into the neighboring space on Water Street, going from 2,000 square feet to 4,800.
The gallery also has partnered with local colleges and universities through an internship program. The gallery can showcase exhibits for three artists at the same time in different sections.
The gallery puts on about 10 shows per year and has a long list of artists and curators looking to be featured. McElhone said if she exhibited everyone on that list, she’d be booked until 2019.
McElhone also is planning the gallery’s first juried show next year featuring pieces picked by Connecticut artist Jaclyn Conley. During that show, Anne Temkin, chief curator for sculpture and paintings for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, will pick one artist as the winner. That artist will have his or her own show in the gallery in 2016.Temkin is a Torrington native who presented a talk at Five Points last year.
McElhone said she’s also excited about an upcoming talk featuring Eric Fischl and Robert Berlind. She said Fischl, an internationally acclaimed American painter and sculptor, picked Torrington for a spot on his tour. He’s also giving art talks in New York, Washington and Los Angeles.Fischl and Berlind will be in Torrington on Nov. 1.
Contact Bruno Matarazzo Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RA_BrunoJr.