Culture News

Downtown's Firehouse Will Stay Open Despite Firestage Closing

Michael 23, local artist and director of The Firehouse Gallery in downtown Phoenix, understands the pain of city codes and development interfere with the Downtown arts district. 
This week, a building-permit violation resulted in the City of Phoenix preventing use of Firehouse's event stage, which is home to many events and monthly performances. So what's the Firehouse's next move?

It's not the first time Firehouse has dealt with rough waters -- its second gallery, Thought Crime, was shut down after 10 years in 2005 due to location interference with a planned lightrail station.

This year, with City-issued citations and almost $50,000 in construction and engineering fees, the team behind Firehouse Gallery will have to hold back from stage construction for the time being.

But as with any production, the shows will go on. Michael 23 says the First Friday performances will reconvene in March at Bragg's Pie Factory and Firestage (Third Friday show) will be taken on by Conspire café down the road.

Michael 23 says the Firehouse gallery's functions have drastically lessened, and that while the current situation is very "limiting," he's determined to protect the rest of their space.

"Just so you know... The Firehouse is holding fast," he wrote on the gallery/venue's Facebook page. "We may be losing a stage, but our residency, gallery and retail projects are going strong. FFNL has a new home at Bragg's Pie Factory on Grand [...] Soon we will have a new cafe and secret garden... stay tuned.. don't mind the static.. its just the sound of adaptation and survival."

The Firehouse team has decided to reopen its outdoor café (with a new convection oven) in an effort to "adapt and survive."

"Artists can come back to this place," says Michael, optimistic about upcoming growth in the art community. He described the arts' district peak in 2005 as having "118" venues and feels certain it's going to be that way again. Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Lauren Jordan