Change at The Vault: Artists draw new ownership plan

By Kayleigh Rahn
The artists of The Vault in downtown Tuscola have locked in a new phase of ownership as those affiliated with the gallery have created a cooperative to keep the doors open.

The Vault Art Collective opened in the summer of 2013 when John McDevitt moved his collective from Sullivan’s The Factory to its new home in Tuscola. McDevitt was in the process of buying the former bank building from the City of Tuscola when he decided to close up shop. He’d planned to turn the keys over to the city, who had funded building improvements using Tax Increment Financing dollars.

The city wasn’t interested in obtaining responsibility for the large building, which gave a trio of new owners the chance to rent the space for $100 for the first year to test the waters.

Tuscola’s Mike Carroll, Jerry Reynolds, and Jim Higgins, under the name Bend in the River, took over the business just over a year ago at the discounted rate in an effort to keep the doors open at the cornerstone business.

“They saved it from oblivion then,” said gallery manager Kirby Pringle said.

Over the last year, personal circumstances changed for the new owners and profits weren’t easily realized, Pringle explained. Over the last several weeks they started to look into trying to sell the business with a March 31 closure date in mind.

“This building is so big I don’t know what else you’d use it for,” Pringle said. “They were going to close it, and I worked hard over the last year trying to rebrand it a little bit by getting more variety of things in and different artists. It’s worked. Traffic has increased. Sales have increased. I was trying to figure what to do to save this place, and I threw out the idea of an artist cooperative where no one person would have to make a huge investment. You all take part of the risk and part of the reward. With about 25 people now pitching in a little bit of money, now, no one is going to lose $10,000. The artists took the cooperative idea and ran with it.”

The artists met Monday, March 12 and voted to create to cooperative. The artists will officially take over on Sunday, April 1.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, March 21 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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