A Fresh Look For The Arts
For The ARTS at Marks Garage, First Friday is always a special night.
But the First Friday in March marked an extra special occasion for the Chinatown community arts center: After being closed for renovations for several weeks, it opened its doors March 3 for a soft re-opening party.
While it’s still a work in progress — renovations won’t be completed until the end of the month — there are a number of significant changes taking place.
“I am really pleased with the way that it is coming along,” says ARTS at Marks executive director Rich Richardson, “and people are welcome to check us out in the meantime as we get there.”
The cubicles that formerly housed co-working space for ARTS at Marks partner organizations are gone — in their place is an open floor plan. The private offices are gone, too; now, all of the desks are together in an open workspace.
“The floor space is so expansive now — you won’t believe it. It looks like a completely different animal,” Richardson says.
“I have really enjoyed working out in the open with others around me instead of holed up in the office,” he says. “It seems to have increased the energy of the space; the conversations that happen between partners now is a little bit more lively.”
Still in the works is a conference room dubbed “The Nest.” And there also is a wall full of books that have been donated by Friends of the Library of
Hawaii that are available for purchase.
“I kind of miss having books around,” Richardson says. “There are not enough book stores in our lives, I don’t think. We’re really happy to have them.”
All of these changes, Richardson explains, are designed to allow for new types of programming.
“We will be programing differently because of the increased capacity, from 120 seated to about 300 standing,” he says.
For one, expect more live music. Plus, there also is increased wall space for exhibitions.
Along with these physical changes, ARTS at Marks also has welcomed in some new groups to join the list of partner organizations: Friends of the Library, improv troupe Improv Hawaii and nonprofit travel2change.
The renovations are being led by architecture and design firm Group 70 International.
“They gave us a couple options. One was kind of the safe route, and the other was a medium amount of change, and the third was a radical demolition — and that is what we chose,” Richardson says.
“I really think we just needed to shake up the model of Marks Garage,” he says, “and give it a kind of refreshed feel.”
Currently, The ARTS at Marks is hosting a visual installation by Mohammed Kazem as a part of the Honolulu Biennial through April 30. For more information and updates, visit artsatmarks.com.