SDSU Downtown Gallery forced to close due to budgetary constraints

by Katelynn Robinson, Assistant News Editor

Due to budget constraints San Diego State’s Downtown Gallery, which occupied a part of San Diego’s historic Electra building since 2011, closed at the end of June.

The small space on the corner of Broadway and Kettner Blvd. was well loved, Director of SDSU’s School of Art and Design Annie Buckley said.

“One thing I’ll say I want to contextualize because I haven’t been here very long is that the Downtown Gallery is well loved by our faculty and students and the community and we’ve really grown the expanse of the audience of the Downtown Gallery over the past ten years since it’s been in existence,” Buckley said.

SDSU was a commercial tenant in the gallery that previously featured artists from around the world and featured the work of SDSU’s faculty and students on a yearly basis.

Mara Parker, a public affairs specialist for the School of Art and Design, said the gallery did not close due to COVID-19, however it was forced to close earlier than planned because of it. 

“Over the course of the year after (the decision to close the gallery) there were numerous discussions between speaking with potential donors and community members and other faculty as well as the dean to just see what we might do and if there might be a way to continue it,” Parker said. “Then when COVID hit everything changed and it was absolutely not possible to pursue any of those paths,” Parker said.

The gallery was used for exhibitions which were oftentimes in collaboration with organizations and schools at SDSU and endeavored to showcase works that ventured beyond just visual art. 

“The programming was really diverse in that way we tried to engage as many different non-visual art and bring in creative writers and poetry and all different kinds of things in addition to the more standard kind of artist lecture, walk through type of programming,” Downtown Gallery Director Chantel Paul said.

Exhibitions of contemporary art which were held in the gallery included musical and dance performances as well as one-act plays, creative writers, and poetry. Theater, film and television installations were also featured in many of the gallery’s exhibitions. 

Parker said she felt that these types of diverse exhibitions embodied the purpose of the gallery.

“I think that both of those are really great representations of what the Downtown Gallery was about which was to show a diversity of artists and a diversity of media and to really highlight collaboration with SDSU both the school of Art and Design as well as other departments,” Parker said.

Paul said the gallery program will continue having an on campus presence despite not being located in the original building. 

 “We obviously will not be inhabiting the space off campus in that type of capacity but we will have a very strong presence with our gallery program on campus that may actually be more accessible to our students and faculty,” Paul said.