The Durham art scene received a crushing piece of news today when The Carrack Modern Art, an essential community gallery, announced that it will cease operations at the end of September, after eight years of exhibits, events, and community programs.

“With our fundraising to date, The Carrack has been unable to generate enough revenue to continue supporting its operations,” said a letter to supporters. “While we are deeply saddened to bring this project to its endpoint, we are proud of what The Carrack has collaboratively built with our community.”

From its early days above Loaf on Parrish Street to its latter days next to Golden Belt, The Carrack has been a vital community resource and a crossroads in the local art scene. Under the longtime direction of founder Laura Ritchie and the shorter span of her successor, Saba Taj, The Carrack devised novel ways to make the art experience accessible to artists and viewers alike, from the unusually short runs and small scale of its exhibits—which allowed more emerging artists to be seen—to the gallery’s zero-commission policy, by which artists kept every cent of their sales.

Eschewing normal fundraising models to rely instead on volunteers, community support, and other nontraditional means (this weekend, its second-annual Sticky Note Show fundraiser will find the gallery selling Post-it Notes decorated by local artists for a mere $5 each), The Carrack cites “many interacting factors” in the decision to close, including “rising organizational costs, pressures to institutionalize, our relocation away from downtown, and recognizing the dire necessity to pay our staff fair, living wages.”

The Sticky Note Show fundraiser will go on as planned this weekend to help cover closing costs. The gallery will continue to host scheduled exhibits through August and is trying to relocate the remaining shows to other venues. Aptly, The Carrack story will conclude with one of its beloved community shows (August 30–September 20), in which the walls overflow with the kind of community art The Carrack held an invaluable space for—space that, we fear, is definitively closing as the march of development grinds on.

We can’t lie: We’re super sad about this. Some of our fondest Durham memories swirl around The Carrack, especially in its early days on Parrish, and we don’t see anything lined up to fill the gap it will leave. But we’re also super grateful to Ritchie, Taj, Crocker, and the countless community members who, through almost a decade of rampant change, made sacrifices to keep alive a zone of more conscious change, which made our lives here inestimably better.

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One reply on “The Carrack Modern Art Is Closing This Fall”

  1. I’m amazed they made it 8 years! Congrats to them for accomplishing that. Still, I think it’s a shame that they’re having to close just because of the 0% commission thing. It seems like they’re shooting themselves in the foot for no apparent reason.

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