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What's Your Vision for Artists' Row?

If you could choose, what would go in this seasonal space?

On Memorial Day, Artists' Row will reopen, adding a handful of artists and craftsman to the downtown scene.

Applications for artists interested in the seasonal spaces were due in April, and some familiar faces, including the Salem Arts Association and Fished Impressions are slated to return.

During Mayor Stanley Usovich's administration in the 90s and early 2000s, RCG (owner of , Derby Lofts, the building and various other downtown apartment and business buildings) proposed to build a commercial and residential development with public spaces and underground parking in the area where Artists' Row is currently located.

We want to know — if you had the authority (and money) to decide what could go at Artists' Row, what would you choose?

Would you keep it? Would you change it? Would you bulldoze it?

Let us know in the comments.

William Legault contributed to this report.

Dean Santamaria May 13, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I think if Artists Row were changed to an indoor mall it would look just as boring and depressed as The East India Mall. True that the open outdoors feeling limits it to a seasonal venue but that makes it more unique, less sanitized, more interesting. I also don't think you'll ever hear music in down town Salem if there are residences built above the space. Keep it the way it is.
Anne C. Mahoney May 13, 2012 at 01:42 PM
What would happen to The Lobster Shanty. My favorite place to go!!!!!!!
Tiffany Clark May 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I love Artist Row. It adds interest to the city for tourists and residents alike. The Lobster Shanty is one of the best local hangouts in the city.
bevtownbrewer May 13, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I Agree with Dean -- Artist's row is an oasis in the artistically barren desert we call Salem. There is nothing "creative" going on on Essex Street, or down by the Wharf... those are all just places (with a few exceptions) that you would expect to see in Salem. The Artist's row is the last hold-out for true creativity. I say, "let's keep it"!
Force of Will May 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Keep it! Hell, make it a year-round thing! Since the demise of Dodge Street, Salem needs a new music-centric venue. Salem is a city of artists, and demolishing our row would destroy a good part of that. As for what should go in there? I would suggest making one of those buildings a small concert venue (something Salem pretty desperately needs since the demise of Dodge Street). I know the Shanty's got music outside pretty frequently, but it's hardly a show/concert situation.
Kamryn Vander May 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Ever since Usovich, the city's been trying to turn a big buck on Artist's Row, even in defiance of the Derby bequest, in an attempt to turn Salem into North Shore Mall. It's one of the few spaces in Salem that's unique and interesting, and one of the few that's devoted to local, non-processed art. The last thing Salem needs is another slicked-up and boring "commercial and residential area" in which the proposed underground parking and public spaces somehow never materialize (rationalized away as "too expensive" after construction's already started). And we don't need another crowd of self-absorbed, entitled idiots complaining about the noise downtown. All of you who are talking about a "music venue" are saying the exact thing that the city's terrified of.
Grendel MacMoses May 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The only possible change that I would support would be the upgrading of the buildings to make year round operation possible. I like the outdoors pathway, and I absolutely love the Shanty. The Shanty has become a Salem land mark more important that the stupid "Bewitched" statue. Lets try to keep some Salem in Salem.
PK May 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Bring back the Popcorn Cart that used to be on Salem Common and put it at opposite end of the Shanty to attract visitors. Any change should be co-ordinated with updates made to the Pedestrain Mall and Town Hall Square as they all kind of flow together in terms of walking spaces.
Dean Santamaria May 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM
The music that the city is so afraid of is the reason why people are coming to Salem to spend money in the first place. Noise means money. I mean if Salem kills off their local music scene then I'm sure people will be flocking to Peabody and Swampscott for their killer music scenes.
gene May 13, 2012 at 08:14 PM
you are absolutely right. Usovicz and joe Walsh tried to kill the marketplace, in spite of the deed.
Diane Wolf May 14, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Artist's Row could really benefit from year-round, rent-paying tenants. The rent revenue could help pay for repairs to the row as a whole. Every year we see broken windows, pried doors & bent fences. It is like a ghost town down here after the winter market ends until the artists return. To quote a recent Patch article ( http://salem.patch.com/articles/downtown-fountains-may-face-the-wrecking-ball ) "When I started at the Lobster Shanty, there was a $25,000 budget just for the market place. Over the years, the money in those budgets was redirected and then just eliminated." Artist's Row really needs some basic repairs - bring back that budget! (Kudos to the Salem Electric Department for keeping our lights on and in working order - considering their age, no simple task.) I know that the city struggles to keep the public restrooms in good working order (a nightmare, given the abuse from the local ne'er do wells.) and that the uneven pavement is hazardous to pedestrians. The sewer lines beneath are old and filled with roots. Most of the buildings have a certain amount of rot that our recent paint job doesn't hide. We at the Shanty have put thousands of dollars into new doors and windows over the past couple of years both out of pride and necessity. If I had the money I'd re-build the Row with longevity in mind; workable buildings with proper heat, electricity and security. Salem deserves an artistic oasis.
BJ Larson May 14, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I totally agree with all of the above comments to KEEP THE ROW! And Diane's about putting money into making the buildings usable year-round. As a board member of the Salem Arts Association, I know that we could really benefit (and grow) if we had a year-round space. And yes, the city should put some money into maintenance, even keeping the bathrooms clean and supplied with toilet paper would go a long way to making the place more inviting for tourists and artists alike...
Cheryl Michaels May 14, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I sooo agree with everyone. The row with its artist's shops, the farmer's winter market and the Shanty makes it one of the most wonderful places in the city. My wish would be to simply keep the same purpose, but to add improvements. It's time for the city to spent some money on this area -- remodeled clean restrooms, and good lighting for street art, flags & banners, sculpture, music & other entertainment, a unique cart vendor or two (flowers? cotton candy?) -- more benches, more flowers and window boxes.
Ellen Hardy May 15, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Exhale..... The artists' row area, known as 'the flats' in the Derby Deed (which includes Old Town Hall), is a protected community space. The Artists' Row area has grown from open stalls to the metal roofed units and it has evolved over time. The Salem Arts Association (SAA) is pleased to have been awarded a three-year renewal contract this year. We are seeking a year-round home but meanwhile the contract renewal will help us program and advertise in the winter months (something we were unable to do with a year-to-year contract). Artists' Row is in the heart of downtown and we believe investment into the area is vital. If it were year-round the area would spark more foot traffic and energy than having it boarded up and vandalized. This is New England---the area should be vibrant all year! The SAA provided free music all summer, workshops, and art for sale from our 125+ members. In the past 5-6 years we have seen a blossoming of non-profit arts related groups. There is a collective energy to see the community arts grow! Given it's "heart" location —winterization would be nice. However, if you talk to any contractor they'll tell you—rebuild them properly as opposed to patch 'n fix. So here's where "vision" plays a role! Ellen Hardy, President of the SAA
Jeffrey Dykes May 15, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Upgrade ( rebuild ) artist row to a four season destination, shopping, exhibiting and dining. Anchoring that end of Derby and being a better gateway to Front Street, Town House Sq..
Kate May 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I agree with pretty much everyone that Artist's Row is great, but needs to fixed up and functional year-round. I also like what Ellen is saying about programming and advertising all year. I'd like to see more and a wider variety of artists in the row. keeping things open and nice-looking all year combined with more advertising could bring in more artists.
SalemWhole August 24, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Wow, I like the idea of bulldozing it! This is the most creative idea for Artists' Row I have heard yet. When the planning department is done with their puppet show we can all clap and give them high fives for being so creative.

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