KALICO begins its last week of opening downtown

The local nonprofit KALICO arts center is entering its final week that it will remain open at its downtown Kalispell location at 149 Main Street.

Earlier this month, KALICO announced that it had not received several grants it was counting on and that financial losses had forced the association to abandon its current building and lay off staff.

According to KALICO, staff members have been given the opportunity to transition into voluntary and contract work. The July 12 press release announced that the staff would be laid off the following week.

A KALICO launch party was held in March 2019, and the nonprofit had been in discussions in March 2020 about its grand opening when rumors began to spread that Montana would enter a lockdown intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Trying to adapt to the pandemic, KALICO had held remote events and distributed art packets and take-out pottery kits, before a phased opening of the city center from summer 2020.

“Opening our doors when we did, unfortunately, just didn’t give us the foundation we needed to establish ourselves well in the city center,” KALICO said in a news release about the changes.

The press release also stated that KALICO after leaving the building “will exist without walls as we re-evaluate and re-imagine a space that would better suit us.”

Alisha Shilling, chair of the board and founder of the nonprofit organization, said in a statement that she hopes “the financial breathing space this will create will provide new insights into our next steps.”

In the same statement, Shilling asked anyone with “a space just waiting to be filled with creativity, connection and community” to contact KALICO.

In a press release announcing the layoffs and the move, KALICO said it would continue summer camps, partnerships and other programs it has already committed to.

The downtown location will be open until the end of July for people to pick up projects, shop, view the current exhibit or paint pottery.

KALICO was planning to hold its final open mic party downtown on Monday night and is looking for a new space to host the event, according to a post on the art center’s social media.

David H. Henry