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A new day for Warehouse 21, where kids went to create | Editorials

A go-to place for teens in Santa Fe is shutting down — the physical location, anyway. Warehouse 21, an anchor at the Santa Fe Railyard, is moving out as of mid-December this year.

The innovative program that helped Santa Fe teens tap into their creativity, learn how to run their own creative start-ups and find their place in the world has a new era ahead. Plans include specialty programs run from various sites, whether schools or other nonprofits. Warehouse 21, in other words, is taking its act on the road.

For 11 years, the nonprofit has been on site in the Railyard, helping keep it alive in the early days when it failed to attract the interest planners had expected. A big sign of life was Warehouse 21, where teen art shows, concerts and simply kids hanging out kept activity going.

With the City of Santa Fe taking more programs to teenagers where they live — a south-side teen center is in the works — and the cost of building upkeep increasing, Warehouse 21 backers are changing how they will interact with the community.

To help launch the new phase of this 23-year-old nonprofit, founder Ana Gallegos y Reinhardt is holding a Facebook fundraiser, with the modest goal of $3,000; almost $800 has been raised to date. She’s especially inviting those many people who went through Warehouse as teenagers, former board members, parents and creative people of all sorts to donate.

The funds raised will go to pay instructors in various creative endeavors, purchase supplies and rent space as needed. Instead of Warehouse 21 being a location, it is becoming a concept that will travel where the needs are.

We are excited to see its new incarnation, but we admit a little sadness in seeing an attraction for teenagers leave the vicinity of downtown. After all, the creative center of Santa Fe — museums, galleries, performing spaces — are adjacent to the Santa Fe Plaza, close to the current Warehouse 21 location. Locals of all ages must feel welcome.

The earlier juxtaposition of teen creativity with the arts community was no accident. Having the teenagers nearby made it easier for partnerships with galleries or museums, as well as offering a place for art shows or music performances by and for teenagers. Many of Santa Fe’s most successful creative entrepreneurs got their starts at Warehouse 21.

Now, as Warehouse 21 evolves and as the city focuses on the south side, those who plan services for teens should remember to keep young people engaged with all areas of town. Yes, a teen center should be convenient for the people who are going to use it, but teenagers also should be exposed to activities away from where they live. Make them welcome downtown and not just as an afterthought.

In the meantime, as plans are made for the Warehouse 21 building and as programs evolve, help these creative pioneers remain strong. Supporting young people in exploring creativity is a tradition we should all support, whatever form that takes.

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