Standing beside the railroad tracks in all its corrugated metal and spray-painted glory, the Studio Center of Santa Fe, formerly Warehouse 21, has been navigating through difficult times. Once teeming with live music, workshops, pingpong games and painting sessions, the facility is practically silent today. This comes in a long series of troubles for the organization over the past months and years.
Warehouse 21 can trace its roots back to 1989 as an offshoot of the Center for Contemporary Arts' then-new youth program. Eight years later, in 1997, Warehouse 21 separated from the CCA and formed its own organization with Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt as the executive director and a warehouse on city-owned property as its home base.
Between 2007 and 2008, the organization shifted its goals and focus, as well as its location, knocking down the previous building in late April 2007, and constructing a new building in Santa Fe's shiny new Railyard from September 2007 to June of 2008. It never seemed to gain its footing.
Then late last year, similar to what happened in 2007, Warehouse 21 recently rebranded itself again as the Studio Center of Santa Fe, which SFR reported in November. At the time, Gallegos y Reinhardt stepped down and left the keys to the new board, which consisted of Paul Rainbird, Kim Langbecker, Craig Anderson and Peter Sills. As of April 18, however, both Langbecker and Sills had resigned, raising more questions as to the stability and sustainability of the Studio Center.
Mere days earlier on April 14, board secretary Anderson sent out an email to a long list of recipients. "Hello friends," it read, "Warehouse 21/now The Santa Fe Studio Center, a gathering place for Santa Fe Youth in the Railyard, is on the verge of closing its doors if we do no not receive enough funding to make it through the next few months."
So what happened to this seemingly integral piece of the Railyard?
Oliver Hillenkamp, a former patron, feels mixed about his experience at the facility. "[Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt] was a really incredible person. She was the reason that Warehouse 21 survived for as long as it did—she put so much of her time and effort into it and she tried to make a lot of stuff happen, but the motivation from the other people just wasn't there," he explains. "I think the main problem was lack of structure and lack of, I don't know, motivation from the people that worked there. There was a lot of potential, and for a while I got really excited about it because I was going to help them redesign their space, but I think there just wasn't a certain willingness to carry projects through."
Beyond the managerial difficulties the facility has experienced, there's another long-term problem plaguing the organization: Teens don't really want to use it.
Like Blaze Morgan, a sophomore at Santa Fe High who's interested in painting and typography. "I just like to draw at home and in class," he tells SFR. "I guess it's because I'm at at my house, and I'm there, so why not? I want to take an art class next year, though."
Morgan's response reveals a lot about what many teens think of the space. The facility's capabilities are unclear, school and home are more convenient and the internet is as capable a teacher as most. To address this, former board member Sills tells SFR the board had been trying "to focus curriculum on things that [are] life skills and job skills so that the teens would not just have an education from the schools, but they'll know how to get a job in the Santa Fe area."
While this could address the problem of crossover between the Studio Center and schools or the internet, the real problem is still funding—and it doesn't appear Anderson's email worked, at least not as of this moment. According to Sills, a lack of funding also led to a number of safety issues in the building. "[It's] unsafe unless money is spent, but the organization is flat broke," Sills says. "We have no funds to do anything."
Anderson refused to comment, but tells SFR that Sills has no authority to speak about Studio Center. City spokesman Matt Ross tells SFR no such safety issues exist, further shrouding the issue in mystery.
The future of Studio Center appears unclear. But it will always hold a special place for those who took full advantage of its resources.
"It makes me sad that it could be shutting down, because I have some good memories there," Hillenkamp, now a student at Reed College in Oregon, tells SFR. "But I also think it's had a good run, and I think a lot of other people have good memories there, too."