The nonprofit arts education and advocacy group Arts Central will soon vacate its longtime home at Mirror Pond plaza, according to the group which sent out a press release on Thursday announcing its pending departure. The organization, which operates the Art Station in the Old Mill, the artists in residency program in the Bend schools and the mobile outreach program, Van Go cited challenges programming the current site on Brooks Avenue as the main reason for the departure. Programming, however, wasn’t the only challenge at the site. A dispute with Deschutes County assessors led to a bill for back taxes in excess of $10,000. The city of Bend, which owns the historic building where Arts Central resides, paid the bill upfront and Arts Central has been paying the city back. According to story in Thursday's Bulletin, The city has agreed to forgive the balance of the debt if Arts Central can help find a tenant for the space that the city had leased to the organization for $1 per year.
Property taxes weren’t the only challenge; in order to preserve its non-profit status and virtually rent-free arrangement with the city, the organization was also prohibited from allowing local artists to display art and offer it for sale within the building, known as the Rademacher house – something that Arts Central had long done. Executive Director Cate O’Hagan had complained also about the vagrancy and criminal activity that occurs around the plaza area and had called for more emphasis on public safety.
The organization has not yet identified a new home for its operations.