It took 18 months of waiting. Eighteen months of fundraising, volunteering and wondering when it would all be over. But Warehouse 21 is back, and it's itching to crank up the volume. “It took a lot of endurance,” says Warehouse 21 Executive Director Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt. “But we did it, and we survived.”
Santa Fe’s premier all-ages venue temporarily shut its doors in December of 2006. The old Warehouse 21 was torn down in April 2007 to make way for a road that would help connect residents to the revitalized arts and cultural district Downtown. The new-and-improved version, which sits across the railroad tracks from Site Santa Fe at 1614 Paseo de Peralta, is 16,845 square feet—nearly five times larger than its predecessor.
The two-story teen arts center boasts two performance spaces (one for concerts and one for movies), a recording studio, a digital media lab, a fashion design studio, a printmaking studio, a darkroom, a coffee bar and an outdoor patio area. “Sometimes I stand there in front of it and think, What have I done?" Gallegos y Reinhardt teases.
Though its digs have changed, Warehouse 21’s greatest mission hasn’t. It’s still a place where teens and young adults can sample some of the best arts and entertainment in the country. Gallegos y Reinhardt says the value of a venue like Warehouse 21 was re-affirmed during the construction process. Never ones to sit idly by, Gallegos y Reinhardt and her staff put on 48 different concerts and events at 12 different venues throughout the city. “That to me proves it’s still a need in our community,” Gallegos y Reinhardt says. “Even without a central office or many staff members, we were still able to do all that.”
“We’ll have a little colony of prodigies.”
Warehouse 21 isn’t just a place where young people can see and hear artists at their best. Locals can also learn about the crafts that strike their fancy. A combination of paid and unpaid mentors will teach young adults a bit about studio engineering, graphic and website design, screen printing, and photography, among other things. Gallegos y Reinhardt says the hands-on learning environment will help foster an even richer artistic environment in The City Different. “We’ll have a little colony of prodigies,” she says. “We’ve gotta maintain the development of young artists in this town and in the state.”
The new Warehouse 21 cost about $3.4 million to build. When the dust settled, Gallegos y Reinhardt’s organization didn’t have any debt, but the building still needs equipment for many of the programs that will be implemented. “We’re still using a lot of the ancient equipment we have from the old building,” Gallegos y Reinhardt laughs. “But we need more, and that’s the next phase.”
Though she will ask patrons to open their wallets again to make sure Warehouse 21 has all the gear it needs, Gallegos y Reinhardt is well aware of the generous contributions that have already been made. “We did so many benefits that people were probably exhausted by how many we had,” she says. “But all the $5 bills in the fish bowl is what made this building.”