One year ago this month, Press Street moved into its new two-story headquarters on St. Claude Avenue. The move proved to be a watershed moment for the organization. The increased space, better layout, and overall fancier facility allowed us to expand and improve our programming across the board—in literary events, visual art, film, and arts education—and attract new people and groups to the Press Street consortium.
But, a year in, we have realized that we are not leveraging the space to its maximum potential. The vast majority of cool stuff that’s happened at the new Press Street HQ has taken place upstairs, in the Antenna Gallery, and the first floor has remained something of an anarchy zone. With the help of our friends and supporters, that’s about to change.
Early next year, Press Street will unveil The Reading Room 220—named not so much after this website but after the entity from which the site got its name, the room in the old Colton School artists’ colony where Press Street hosted readings, workshops, and working writers up until 2009.
The Reading Room 220 will offer all that and more … once we get it built. That’s where our friends and supporters come in. We are going to physically transform—i.e. renovate—the first floor of the Press Street HQ to better serve the students in Big Class, provide a great space to view work from our new Signals flat file, and, perhaps most importantly, provide a space where people can hang out and use WiFi without being bugged to buy a cup of coffee.
We’re also going to amass a collection of books and build a reading library of titles not readily available in local bookstores—we’re talking quality publishers like Semiotext(e), Verso, Taschen, Soft Skull, Akashic, and New Directions that don’t really have large enough audiences to make it worthwhile for independent book stores to stock lots of their titles. We recently received a donation from the arts and politics journal n+1 of its entire catalog, and we expect equal contributions from other publishers of merit.
Press Street has launched an online fundraising IndieGoGo campaign to support the creation of The Reading Room 220, and with five days left to go, we have raised $3,140 of our $5,000 goal. These funds will go almost exclusively to materials costs, and the renovation itself will be done by builder and Antenna Gallery member James Goedert and a team of motley helpers.
Please take a moment to visit The Reading Room 220’s IndieGoGo page to watch a video that includes renderings of the new space and descriptions of what will happen there. You can also see the enticing “rewards” one can receive for donating to the effort (by the way: we’re a 501©3 nonprofit) and, of course, you can make a gift and help support the creation of what will be a truly valuable space.