The pandemic has left the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills with canceled classes and little revenue. Executive Director Charlee Miller explains how they were forced to sell the building in order to make ends meet.  Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Relocating and reorganizing is the charge for officials at the Art League of Long Island, who say revenue loss from the pandemic is forcing them to sell their Dix Hills building.

The nonprofit has been closed since March 12 because of the coronavirus shutdown, but plans to reopen Sept. 14 while it continues the search for a new home. The league has started a fundraiser to help cover costs while it is in transition. 

Charlee M. Miller, executive director of The Art League of Long Island, said the bank gave them a moratorium on mortgage payments and the league received federal COVID-19 financial help, but it became clear very quickly the building would have to be sold after looking at a six-month economic forecast.

“We did not have any reserves,” Miller said. “That’s the unfortunate part for not-for-profits; oftentimes you don’t have a cushion or an endowment and we had very little to lean on.”

The 15-year-old, two-story, 17,112-square-foot building at 107 E. Deer Park Rd. was put on the market for $4.5 million about seven weeks ago, Miller said.

The Art League of Long Island is a visual education center founded in 1955, providing a forum and showcase for artists of all ages and ability levels, according to its website.

Miller said 75% of the league’s revenue is generated from tuition. The remainder comes from donations, memberships, exhibits and gallery rentals. Besides the loss of tuition revenue, the league also owes thousands of dollars in credits for students who paid for courses but could not take their classes.

Charlee Miller, right, executive director of the Art League of...

Charlee Miller, right, executive director of the Art League of Long Island, and Dave Peikon, an artist and instructor, stands in an empty gallery space. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The organization has started a “Count Me In” emergency COVID-19 fund, which offers several ways the public can help. They are taking monetary donations, asking students to donate their class credits, and have created an "artist of the day" component through which an artist donates a piece of artwork for auction to benefit the league. That artist in turn will be featured on the league’s website as the "artist of the day."

“The Art League must recover to fulfill its mission since its inception in 1955: To enhance Long Island's cultural life through the practice, appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts,” Miller said.

She said donations will go toward covering the costs of reopening, offering virtual and in-studio classes. They have achieved about 33% of the $100,000 fundraising goal, Miller said.

David Peikon, an artist and Art League fine art instructor for five years, said selling the building is a sad but necessary event. He said unloading the building will allow the league to establish itself in a smaller footprint at a rented space with lower maintenance costs. Funding will also go toward creating some form of endowment to sustain the nonprofit through future emergencies, he said. 

“The reality of COVID is that the financial impact on us is too great for us to keep going the way we’re going, so we have to find alternatives,” Peikon said.

Art League of Long Island

  • A not-for-profit organization founded in 1955
  • Dedicated to broad-based visual arts education and providing a forum and showcase for artists of all ages and ability levels
  • Current location is a 15-year-old, two-story, 17,112-square-foot building at 107 E. Deer Park Rd.
  • League in search of a new home after putting the Dix Hills building up for sale for $4.5 million
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