Frog Hollow to close Middlebury gallery

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(Host) The recession has forced the closing of the landmark Vermont State Craft Center in Middlebury, after 38 years in business.

Frog Hollow will be shutting the gallery and administrative headquarters to focus on its Burlington store and web sales.

Frog Hollow was founded in Middlebury as an arts education center.

Executive Director Deidre Healy says the non-profit had been making headway on a new business plan.

But Healy says sales fell sharply this fall as the recession deepened. She says the craft center decided to focus on its more profitable Burlington location.

(Healy) It’s a more viable space, it has a lot more visibility for us, and the lion’s share of our artists sales are in the Burlington gallery, so when we were looking at where to throw our support, we feel very strongly about supporting the artists community and the Burlington gallery simply does that much more business.

(Host) Healy says Frog Hollow will continue to offer classes in Middlebury. But eight gallery employees will be out of work and as many as forty arts instructors may not have the same teaching opportunities.

She says some of the group’s 300 artists will be affected by the closing:

(Healy) I think the saddest thing that I’m hearing is that people, are saying I understand because this is perhaps the third gallery that I’ve heard from. I had one artist write me and tell me that. It’s really quite sobering. It’s staggering to realize what’s being lost, not only to the artist community, but also to the Middlebury business community and the state of Vermont as well.

(Host) Weybridge woodcarver Gary Starr has been selling carved birds at Frog Hollow for over 20 years. And he says the Middlebury gallery was a big outlet for sales. Starr says the idea has been discussed in meetings and was not a surprise.

(Starr) The artists obviously do not want Frog Hollow to close, they really appreciate the presence of Frog Hollow in the state and in Middlebury. They’d love to have Frog Hollow be open and be a strong organization, but the financial realities of the situation sort of forced the hand of the board of trustees.

(Host) Frog Hollow has operated as many as three galleries in the past. A Manchester gallery closed last year.

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