AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - In the last year, the Crouch Foundation has been trying fulfill Ann Crouch's wish to becomes a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, but to no avail.
This is because the foundation rents space out to artists and their galleries at Arts in the Sunset.
“We can no longer rent to tenants. And obviously that’s a huge blow to Sunset and everything that Sunset stands for,” said Executive Director of the Amarillo Art Institute Rachel Flores. “But unfortunately, looking at the financial situation that we are in, it’s kind of the decision that had to be made.”
Otherwise, the foundation would have to pay an estate tax of $6.1 million.
To achieve tax-exempt status, the Crouch Foundation decided it would become a supporting organization of the Amarillo Art Institute.
“We will renovate the current Panhandle Art Center space, the Amarillo Art Institute will also keep Ann’s gallery which is now called the Garden Event Center,” said Flores. “And the arch that is on the east side that most people recognize is Sunset. And those will be renovated with a new roof, new HVAC.”
Unless there are any other options, a portion of the Sunset mall will also be demolished.
Flores said the Amarillo Art Institute is willing to fill in the gap for displaced artists.
“Exhibition space, artist and residency programs,” she said. “Do more than what we’re doing now to hopefully further promote artists.”
Some students at the Institute have galleries of their own that will be affected.
“There’s some things that we don’t like about this, but we’ve got to think of the long run and what will keep the school going,” said AAI student and PAC artist Lunell Gilley.
“Right now, it’s nice that this school being the only non-profit that would be able to stay alive, at least part of Ann’s dream would still be able to be alive,” said AAI student Johnna Luther.
Flores said someone could still buy Sunset or continue Ann’s dream of preserving the space for artists.
But if that doesn’t happen, the last First Friday event will be August 2nd, and after that, artists will start moving out their galleries the rest of the month.
“I think our only hope is that people will come to understand why this is happening and help us make this place good again like she wanted it to be.”