Running With Scissors Art Studios has purchased 250 Anderson St. after renting for close to 8 years. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — When owner Kate Anker moved Running With Scissors Art Studios to Anderson Street in 2013, she knew that some day she wanted to own the building. Otherwise, she feared, a rent increase might force member artists who shared the space out of the city.

Seven years later, last month, she bought the 16,000-square-foot building from Sleepy Hollow Development Inc. for $1.4 million.

Amy Kustra draws a vase of dried flowers from Broadturn Farm in Scarborough at her artist studio at Running With Scissors on Anderson Street in Portland. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

“It was important for us to purchase this building. It wasn’t just a lofty dream,” Anker said.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on fundraising and a now rebounded dropoff in Running With Scissors’ membership from 75 to 50, Anker was unsure if the arts group could afford to buy the site.

“There were a couple of months where it was scary, and we were afraid we would have to do something drastic, but everyone has been able to find a way to pivot,” said Anker, who has been involved with Running With Scissors since 2006, including the last nine as owner.

She and her husband sold an apartment building they owned on the East End to help pay for the Anderson Street building.

Ownership of the building puts Running With Scissors in a better position for the future, she said.

“We now have a mortgage instead of a rent, and I know if times get tough again I am not worried about an outside landlord,” Anker said.

The organization also is bouncing back from the impact of the pandemic and now has 68 members, she said.

She and her husband “are dedicated to these art studios,” she said. “We’ve taken a huge risk here, but we believe so much in it.”

Emily Armstrong works on a ceramic piece in her studio at Running With Scissors. Armstrong likes working in the space because it affords her an opportunity to be inspired by the work of other artists. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Running With Scissors was started in the early 2000s as a place for artists to share space and equipment and create in the company of others.

“Some artists need access to space. Some need equipment. For some it’s the community, and for a lot of artists it is a combination of those three things,” Anker said.

Painter Amy Kustra was drawn to Running With Scissors for the  community, she said.

“I had been a doctor and when I decided to switch and spend more time with art, the most important thing for me was community. I knew a couple of artists (here) and when I came to visit, I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed,” Kustra said.

A Running With Scissors member for the past five years, Kustra said she is thrilled the building has been purchased.

“Running With Scissors has such a diversity of different types of artists here that everyone can fit in,” she said.

Emily Armstrong, owner of Armstrong Pottery, has been part of Running With Scissors since 2018. She likes that it has a number of ceramic artists along with painters, woodworkers and printmakers, all of whom inspire her work.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and run my business without a place with Running with Scissors,” Armstrong said.

After close to a decade renting space Running With Scissors, Meg Walsh, owner of C&M Ceramics is preparing to move to a new space in Scarborough. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Meg Walsh, owner of C&M Ceramics and co-manager of RWS Clay Center, said her involvement with Running With Scissors has allowed to grow her business.

Walsh sells wholesale and customized ceramic pieces along with lines for restaurants such as Central Provisions, The Honey Paw and Tipo.

After nine years, she has outgrown her shared studio space at Running With Scissors and soon will be moving into a new studio space in the Pine Point Industrial Park in Scarborough, she said.

“Running With Scissors has been so instrumental in the growth of my business,” she said.

 

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