Vox Populi, home to artists and arts-related businesses, is moving to temporary digs after a June 27 stairwell fire forced closure of its space at 319 N. 11th Street. Also moving there are other studios and businesses displaced by the fire.
The new address "throughout July and August," according to a Vox Populi statement released on Wednesday morning, will be 990 Spring Garden St., owned by Arts + Crafts Holdings, the arts-oriented investment and development group. Reopening is set for July 14.
That space will be home to the next Vox Populi juried exhibition and other events; a second space at the same address will be devoted to the work of galleries and studios from the 319 11th St. building.
The two new spaces will host exhibitions, performances, and special events that were in danger of being canceled or rescheduled because of the fire and closure.
Vox Populi's statement thanked Arts + Crafts Holdings for making the spaces available to the business and to other occupants of the closed building. The Arts + Crafts website described the Spring Garden Street building as offering "seven stories of creative office space."
James Merle Thomas, Vox Populi's executive director since January, said by phone that "people from all corners of the city and beyond responded within hours of the incident with many kind gestures. We're very touched by the many ways in which people reached out."
Largely in accord with previous statements by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Vox Populi statement said that the stairwell fire in the north tower of the North 11th Street building had led to water- and smoke-related damage. The closed stairwell rendered the building without a secondary means of exit. Deemed unsafe, the building was closed pending repairs. According to the statement, all sprinklers, alarms, and fire doors worked as designed. Thomas said that "as recently as a few weeks ago, [L&I] went through that building and inspected fire doors, sprinkler systems, and everything. One thing we want to emphasize is the safety of that building prior to the fire."
Founded in 1988, Vox Populi moved to the 11th Street address in 2007. It doesn't own the building or act as landlord to other tenants, and it's not the only tenant to be displaced. Dozens of studios, small businesses, and artisan spaces also were sent looking for new homes.
The July 14 reopening at 990 Spring Garden will include the kickoff of Vox XIII: Are "Friends" Electric? It's the 13th iteration of Vox Populi's annual juried exhibition. On that same date, there will be a round of opening receptions for artists.