Arthaus, a youth arts charity, has served Volusia County for more than 25 years, but the building at 3840 Ridgewood Ave. in Port Orange has a leaky roof and needs a new air conditioner.
The City of Port Orange is in the process of renovating the gym and recreational facility at the Port Orange City Center and ArtHaus will relocate there once that work is done about one year from now.
The city has leased ArtHaus its current location rent free for more than 20 years, but besides the repairs the building needs, there may be other financial challenges.
ArtHaus Executive Director Cameron Vintson is worried.
Ms. Vintson said the city needs the property back for the Riverwalk project across the street, but they would be allowed to go to the new facility the city is building sometime after August 2022.
After barely surviving during the Covid-19 pandemic, Arthaus was just getting back on its feet, she said. “We started into camp. Everything has been fun and hectic, just like we like it for summer art camp. We’ve sold out of summer art camp, which is the first time that’s happened in more than 20 years.”
But then the HVAC system went out July 9 will cost $6,000 to repair.
“That’s half of our bank account at the moment,” Ms. Vintson said. “We have to pay it because we have to keep the children cool, but we’re leaving this building in a year. It hurts a lot because all the hard work that we at ArtHaus have put into the past year trying to keep our heads above water, we are back where we were during the middle of the pandemic.”
She said programs, such as outreach art therapy, are operating, but she doesn’t know how long she will be able to continue them with needing to pay for the A/C along with some roof repairs. ArtHaus is responsible for any repairs to the building.
Ms. Vintson stated she also was told at a recent meeting with Port Orange Parks and Recreation staff that ArtHaus would have to start paying rent once they move to the new city facility. She had assumed they would be able to locate there free.
She was surprised to find out after all these years they might be charged rent.
“We’re going to hopefully petition city council and the governing bodies that are in charge of the new project to maybe give us a five-year break,” Ms. Vintson said. “It’s going to be quite a challenge but we’re going to try and be up to it. We would love to stay in the City of Port Orange. If it comes at a time we can’t afford it, I don’t know where we will go.”
She acknowledged being told they may be charged rent is a preliminary proposal and emphasized ArtHaus is extremely grateful to the city for the support all these years.
Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette has said previously ArtHaus provides a culture outlet for the city and is more a partnership than a landlord-tenant arrangement.
“The building they’re in is falling apart so they do need a new place,” Mayor Burnette said in a more recent interview. “I would hope that they are not putting too much money into it. It is bad timing. You can’t go a year without air conditioning.”
ArtHaus will have to go before the city council on the rent issue.
“Staff don’t have the ability to wheel and deal. We do have certain fee schedules for profit vs. nonprofit that we have developed and there are exceptions that can be brought to council and this sounds like a perfect candidate for that,” the mayor said. “I know this council will work with them. We want (ArtHaus) to be a centerpiece in the REC (Recreation Education and Culture Center). We want to do what’s right by them. One year away we want our tenants to be in place and to be happy.”
Christine Martindale, the city's public information officer, also verified rental plans are in preliminary conversations with park staff with nothing officially approved.
For more information or to donate to ArtHaus, visit arthaus.org.