More space for downtown artists

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, February 14, 2019

Suffolk’s Premier Art, Retail and Cultural Initiative will renovate its North Main Street storefront to create additional workspaces that will be rented out to designers, photographers and other creative professionals in the months ahead.

The SPARC Initiative received $15,000 in January from the Community Business Launch Pitch Night Competition. The competition was sponsored by Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Suffolk Economic Development Authority.

These funds will be used for improvements at the SPARC Shoppe located at 126 N. Main St. The Shoppe is the retail branch of the non-profit organization, featuring original works from more than 30 local artisans, according to the press release.

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Some of the funding will be used for new signage at the Shoppe along with minor renovations downstairs, SPARC Executive Director Carolyn Phillips said, but the bulk of the funds will be put towards renovating the upstairs.

The upstairs renovations will create five additional workspaces, three of which will be private rooms with doors and locks. The renovations are expected to be completed between late spring and early summer — before the May deadline for use of the funding — and renters will move into them shortly afterwards, Phillips said.

She said that there’s a demand among creative professionals in Suffolk for low-cost workspaces outside their homes.

“We’re looking for people that need a private workspace, or a space for consultation with clients,” she said. This is meant for small business owners and others that retail their art, as opposed to those renting space in the OnePast7 art studio farther down North Main Street.

The estimated cost of these workspaces ranges from $75 to $300 per month with utilities included. Contact Carolyn Phillips at or 338-0812 for more information. Email is preferred.