It's been a looong journey at TXF to get us settled in our new home, but today we turn a corner - we open up!
The year-long saga - over a year, really, since June 2014 - had us planning, speculating, shopping, forecasting budgets, negotiating, and finally taking the plunge into leaving our home of almost 20 years in the now iconic South Congress. The TXF board of directors and executive director Pat Jasper back then were very smart to purchase the building next door to the Continental Club, at a time when south Congress was barely something to bank on. Look at it now.
Texas Folklife made that it's storefront home for a few years then partnered with another non-profit, Ten Thousand Villages, to lease them the front space which they occupied for another 10 years or so. Things are very different on SoCo now, and all of us are evolving, changing and to maximize our resources and keep operating at manageable costs we've rented out our entire space to a new company - can't say who yet, but it will be another exciting partnership in the social entreperneurship vein... (that's the only hint you'll get for now.)
Finding and negotiating with that new partner took about nine months, and so did finding a new home for us! Program Director Charlie Lockwood, a few of our board members and myself looked at dozens and dozens of buildings and lost a bid or two before settling on a charming old home on yet another burgeoing part of town, Burnet Road. And boy did we sweat it to the last minute - we were supposed to be out of south Congress on April 1st and we did not settle on this building until March.
Then came the repairs. And more of them. Lots of them. We're STILL dealing with them! As we all know old homes have unparralleled charm and vibe, but they also have years of deterioration to deal with. This particular home had much more extensive water damage than anyone imagined, so our move-in date was delayed two weeks for repairs and even then, the day we arrived with our movers and truck loads of furniture and archives, only four of the eight rooms in the house were move-in ready. That was fun. Oh, and this was right in the middle of Big Squeeze season, with the finals in Austin in just two weeks.
We all piled up in one big room which we called the war room and created makeshift workstations there, which we sometimes found covered in dust when workers continued repairs in the building on evenings and weekends. My colleague Charlie best captured one of these almost surreal moments in this Instagram post. For the next five months we continued dealing with drilling, hammering, tearing of walls, tearing out of floors, having axes cut through our walls, wasps flying in through the cracks and black snakes slithering around in our floor-less offices. Mud. Lots of trailing in of mud throughout the unusually rainy spring and summer this year. A toilet sitting in our reception area while the bathroom floor got torn out and reinforced. Digging through boxes to find our grant folders to file our reports. We still haven't dealt with our shed.
But, believe it or not, we're making progress... throughout the months we gradually finish a section of the house and proudly display the moments on our instagram feeds (like Charlie's office and mine) just this week and last we feel like we finally turned a significant corner with our kitchen finally installed, our lovely back porch cleaned, and our first exhibit finally installed in our small but charming gallery. Fittingly it's our "30 Years of Texas Folklife" exhibit, appropriate for us to finally claim this space as ours and make it all it can be. All the troubles have honestly been worth it because this house, our new Texas Folklife House, is really an ideal home for us. We love the feel of the place and the neighborhood. We know we'll be able to host many great events in this new space, even if small - appropriate for the art forms we work with and represent. Sometimes small but powerful.
We certainly hope all our TXF supporters will come visit us at one of our many programs we plan to host here. Given all our troubles, we ended up starting with a softer launch with a House Concert series. Our good friend Steve Dean suggested we have house concerts here because the place really lends itself, so we're starting off with singer songwriter Rick Shea who's in town at the moment. We plan to have many more, and we really hope our friends will join us here. We guarantee you'll like the place just as much as we do. Do come visit us.
To close, I want to thank many friends and staff who helped get us through these rough times and actually did much work around here - Tomas Salas, Becky Bingman, Eugenio Del Bosque, Joel Scronce, Jesse Archuleta, Raul Orduña of Huapango Sin Fronteras, the TXF Board of Directors and our friends at Asterra Properties. And of course, Charlie (I'm leaving him last because I mentioned him first in this post, and he's my right hand man.)
Please come visit us!