The rumors about changes at nonprofit teen arts center Warehouse 21 have been swirling through town in recent days: that they'd soon close, that youth artists had been banned from the building, that the board would seek a permanent liquor license or that founder Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt had been forced out as executive director.

"Not true," W21 board treasurer Kim Langbecker tells SFR by phone. "Ana has been looking forward to taking off a very heavy set of keys for a long time."

The board announced via press release today that Gallegos y Reinhardt "is moving on" and the organization plans to update operations and programming in the new year as the rebranded Studio Center of Santa Fe, though the details are scarce.

Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt has left the building.
Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt has left the building. | Isaac Scarlott

"We are now and will always be dedicated and focused on the teens and youth of Santa Fe. Period. End of story," Langbecker continues. "It's partly because we feel very strongly and passionately about that, but partly because it's a mandate from the city."

The city owns the Warehouse 21 building, and its annual rent exceeds $240,000 which, according to the city, is covered because the organization provides "services valued in excess of that amount." It's the same deal afforded some other local nonprofits such as Kitchen Angels and the Boys & Girls Club.

According to the Langbecker, the rebranding means strategic partnerships with other institutions such as nonprofit arts-based human rights org Fragile Peace, youth donation platform 100 Kids Who Care and the Santa Fe Community College. The exact nature of the partnerships is not clear at this time, but Langbecker says announcements will be made soon once talks are completed.

For Warehouse 21 employee and local musician Isaac Scarlott, however, the change is daunting. "I'm frustrated because what it feels like to me is that I've been coming here almost every single day, being a hardworking young artist, and trying to use the space to build opportunities, and I feel like I have no idea what's going to happen," says Scarlott, 22. "It feels like you have no say in the direction if you're not on the board, and I'm worried for the future of a space that has impacted my life so much. … The people who started walking through the doors stopped being youthful creatives and started being older, well-dressed people."

Gallegos y Reinhardt believes this is about the inherrent difficulties of change. “I was never forced out; I have been trying to step down for a couple years,” she says, “and as Warehouse 21 turned 21 this summer, in my mind I thought, ‘Warehouse grew up, and I need help.’”
Pointing to new Railyard developments, Gallegos y Reinhardt posits that “Things need to change, and the new programs coming into Warehouse will be more adaptable for kids and what they’ll need in school and career paths.”
Warehouse 21 was founded in 1989 as the CCA Teen Arts Center, a part of the Center for Contemporary Arts. In 1997, however, it spun off into its own entity with Gallegos y Reinhardt at the helm. By 2007, its original location—a run-down old warehouse on Paseo de Peralta—was demolished to make way for the revitalization of the Railyard, and its current building was completed in June of 2008 as part of a $3.4 million capital campaign.
“It was never about me—we did it together; we created this serious youth culture in Santa Fe for 21 years, and that’s an era I won’t forget, but now it needs to change for the next 21 years. When I think about my time at Warehouse 21 … I love every one of you.”

The completion of the Studio Center of Santa Fe rebrand is expected by spring of next year, and Gallegos y Reinhardt will be honored at a free open house event on Saturday Nov. 18 from 3-5 pm at Warehouse 21 (1614 Paseo de Peralta, 989-4423).

Disclosure: This writer is a Warehouse 21 alumnus and previously worked for the organization.