Ferris State moving UICA out of current building, selling it

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With officials saying its current home in downtown Grand Rapids is just too big and expensive to maintain, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is moving out.

The Ferris State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday OK’d selling the UICA property at the intersection of Fulton Street and Division Avenue.

The gallery will relocate a few blocks down Division into the Kendall College of Art and Design building on Pearl Street. The move-out will start right away and the UICA should be settled in its new space by next spring.

Woodbridge Ferris Building
An undated courtesy photo of the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building in downtown Grand Rapids, the home of Kendall College of Art and Design.

Already closed because of coronavirus, the UICA won’t restart programs until the move is complete.

Kendall’s president said there had been talk of making the move for a while and COVID-19 provided the final push.

“The impact of COVID-19 has led us to rethink how we work and provide programming in the future, and I’m confident our re-envisioning of UICA will help it succeed,” Kendall Interim President Tara McCrackin said in a statement. “We realize this is an unexpected announcement, but we believe it is a necessary move to ensure UICA continues to be a leading cultural arts destination in Grand Rapids.”

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts on the corner of Fulton Street and Division Avenue in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids on June 17, 2020.

The UICA is currently housed in about 42,000 square feet on five floors of 2 Fulton West. The annual operational costs are around $250,000. McCrackin said the move will reduce those expenses by up to 50%.

“We believe a smaller footprint and associated expenses will allow UICA a more stable foundation going forward,” UICA Executive Director Miranda Krajniak stated. “Additionally, for some time now, UICA has been managing Kendall’s student art exhibition spaces, so the move will provide for more efficient operations and present a stronger alignment between Kendall and UICA.”

Described as a place to encourage diversity, equity and inclusion in West Michigan’s arts community, the UICA was formed in 1977. It moved into the Fulton Street property in 2011. In 2013, Ferris and Kendall took over the organization.

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