|The Art House and BB&T in Fort Thomas, KY. FTM file.|
The Bank of Kentucky was sold to North Carolina-based, BB&T for $363 million in cash, stock and assets in September. One of those assets was The Art House.
According to Monk, one of the reasons he was able to open The Art House in 2014 was because The Bank of Kentucky set up favorable lease terms for him during the first year he was open. That original lease runs until October of 2016.
He said ideally, he'd like to set up a governing board, who would then purchase the property.
"When we first opened The Art House, The Bank of Kentucky had no interest in selling the property, but after the sale to BB&T, they began liquidating some of the properties that the Bank of Kentucky had acquired," said Monk. "There's really been no central person that I deal with and in fact the people that work next door didn't even know that (their corporate offices) were making the decision to sell the property. They were shocked."
Now, Monk and his board are in the midst of trying to build an iconic institution that gives back to the community in countless ways from the ground up, with a big, fat, red for sale sign in the front yard. "It's a thorn in my side," he said.
The Art House is more than just an art gallery. According to its mission, it's a business incubator, an artisan retail shop and art education facility.
"Beyond the walls of the Art House we serve as dedicated partners and as a support system for established, emerging, and aspiring independent artists and artisans in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas," said Monk. "I don't own The Art House. It belongs to the community. Yes, my name is on the lease, but the intent of this organization is to be an evolving artists cooperative and the majority of artists are from Fort Thomas.
Monk said that there are around 70 local independent artists and artisans are featured there, as well as 20 small businesses and five organizations that utilize the space.
"I think The Art House has the potential to be an iconic building or space or thought, just like the Water Tower is in Fort Thomas. At one point, it served a purpose during the war and now it's a historical landmark and I want this place to become the same thing," said Monk.
Right now, 10% of all sales between Black Friday and December 15 will be donated to Highlands Prom to Dawn. Also available are handmade patriots pillows and quilts, made by members of the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans. Monk said every cent will go back to the group.
Donor incentives are listed here.
Here's what The Art House has accomplished since opening in November 2014:
- We are a volunteer run organization with no paid staff.
- Up-to-date the Art House host approximately 20 small art related businesses as partners and over 70 local independent artists and artisans have their creations at the Art House.
- The Art House space is shared by over 5 organizations giving them the space to develop and grow including: Young Rembrandts, Gallery to Go, EverSpark, Random Acts of Art, RiverSpan Arts Alliance, and the Independent Northern Kentucky Artists and Artisans Education Program, Inc. (INKAA)-the founding organization behind the Art House in Fort Thomas.
- We have provided art studio space to 8 artists on the third floor space of the Art House.
- We have helped independent artists create 7 officially registered small businesses in Kentucky and
- We have connected our members with buyers, new customers, and new collectors thereby increasing sales and revenue for our artists and artisans.
- We have donated goods and services to help over 10 local organizations and fundraising campaigns for various good causes including: Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Mommy Has Breast Cancer, Inc., Pink Ribbon Girls, the American Cancer Society, the Brighton Center, Moyer Elementary School, Catholic Charities SW Ohio, Pets in Need (Petcasso 2015), the Humane Society, the KASSIE Project.
- We have provided free art classes for pre-school children on a weekly basis through our Mommy and Me program and KY-mmunity Outreach initiatives. We have served over 76 youth under the age of 6 in less than a year.
- We have provided free small group and private art lesson with master artists for children and teenagers once a week through the Creative Corner. The age ranges have been 6 to 17 years old.
We have hosted various art classes ranging from crocheting to jewelry making to pottery glazing averaging three times a month in various forms including our most popular Dine and Design events.
We host a weekly art program for 4 to 11 homeschooled children from the community. This class is taught by one of our volunteers-Annie Brown.
- We have created an inclusive art initiative called Artism that regularly serves 6 individuals with special needs and over 15 parents, guardians, teachers, and caretakers of individuals with special needs. Several of our emerging artists are on the Autism Spectrum.
- We have hosted 6 art business seminars by bringing in experts and guest speakers from the world of art to speak to established, emerging, and aspiring artists and artisans about the art world and the business side of art.
- We have built websites and social media sites for 5 independent artists and artisans. Here is an example: www.BobMobarry.com.
- We regularly research and submit applications for competitions, shows, scholarships, grants, fellowships, apprenticeships, and special events on behalf of our collaborative members.
We have developed a cadre of accomplished artists and artisan as mentors and have begun pairing them together with emerging artist at the Art House.
- We have hosted 11 themed art shows that were curated by the members and were well attended by the public.
- We have increased traffic from around the region to the Fort Thomas area as well as enhanced the public’s interest in art, the business side of art, and understanding the creative side of producing art.
- We regularly collaborate and work with other community organizations, organizational leaders, businesses, and business owners including: the Boone County Visual Arts Society; the Highlands United Church of Christ with Pastor Ryan Byers; Gallery to Go and owner Chris Franzen Smith; EverSpark owned by Kristie Dierig; RiverSpan Regional Arts Alliancewith Executive Director Bruce Olson; various Fort Thomas home schooled groups; the City of Fort Thomas; Bowman's Framing and Art owned by Ken Bowman; Hiudt Unlimited owned by artist Brie Hiudt; and the Art Institute of Cincinnati College of Graphic Design and the Children's Art Academy of Fort Thomas owned by John and Cyndi Mendel;
- We regularly connect artists and artisans with other galleries and boutiques including; Under the Stars in Batavia Ohio, the Scene Ultra Loungein Cincinnati, and Circle of Hope Artisans in Bellevue Kentucky;
- We worked with community leaders, businesses, and the City of Fort Thomas to create a successful seasonal fine arts and crafts art walk event called Art Around Towne (www.ArtAroundTowneFT.com). This was Fort Thomas' first official community art walk event.