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Arts council plans move from Market St.

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POTSDAM — Another downtown property will soon be vacant as the St. Lawrence County Arts Council plans to shutter its gift shop and move its offices to Snell Hall in September.

The 51 Market St. store serves as an art gallery, retail shop and office space for the council, and costs nearly $15,000 a year in rent and utilities.

The council sells the work of local artists on site, but the profits were not enough to justify the cost of the building or the part-time staff needed to man the shop.

The council paid the difference through membership fees and grant funds, but the math was unsustainable, according to council Director Rebekah L. Wilkins-Pepiton.

“We’re just unable to do that going into the fall,” she said.

For the past few months the council board has been exploring its options, and now it has reached a decision.

The gift shop will be closed, and the council will look into selling artists’ work through other north country businesses.

“Right now the best thing to do is to move out of the retail space,” Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

The offices will be moved into Snell Hall, between Main St. and Elm St.

The council will continue to focus on offering classes, holding art events and supporting local artists. Rent and utilities will cost less that $3,000 annually, a substantial savings for the council.

The main hallway of the Potsdam Town Hall, 18 Elm St., will double as the council’s art gallery starting in September. The walls will be lined with new artwork every six to eight weeks, with occasional receptions that will be free and open to the public.

The Potsdam Town Board approved the use of the Town Hall as an art gallery at a meeting Tuesday.

The moves were prompted by the still-struggling economy and a decrease in available grant funds as the state continues to tighten its belt.

“We just had to make some changes,” Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

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