*Renovation Update From Board*

Concerning recent Sheriff Sale of our building please refer to the following press release: Soap Factory Survives Sheriff’s Sale

Since the announcement of the Soap Factory's Sheriff’s Sale, many members of our community have had questions and concerns about the future of the organization. The Soap Factory's board has come together to provide some answers for your questions below.

Did the Soap Factory close for good?

No! We have had limited programming since 2017, and have had to delay our reopening due to difficulties obtaining financing.

Did the Soap Factory lose the building?

No, though a mortgage on the building was sold in a sheriff’s sale on December 18, 2018 for $1.2M, and if we are unable to redeem this debt within six months we will lose control of the building. We are working on a number of different paths to redeeming that debt within the time allotted.

What will happen to the organization if you do end up losing the building?

If we do lose the building, the Board is dedicated to finding a way to move forward in a new space. The Soap Factory is too important to the art scene in the Twin Cities to let it fold. But we will need financial resources to move forward even in another space.

Where did the Soap’s debt come from?

The $1.2M loan that was sold in the sheriff’s sale on 12/18 was originally given us to bridge our financing by an investor who was going to open a restaurant in the building after renovations. This financing was taking so long that this investor had to leave the arrangement, and our contractor RJM Construction stepped in to buy that debt to help us close our deal with the bank. When we were denied financing in November 2018, RJM decided to hold a sheriff’s sale on the mortgage they had bought in order to pay their subcontractors for their work on the building.

Can you realistically close this deal and save the building?

Yes. We have been offered a proposal for a mortgage from another bank. We think that we will be able to close this deal. If we are able to do so, we would be able to redeem the $1.2M note that was sold at the sheriff’s sale, and have funds to move forward, rehire staff, and begin operating again.

With this deal the Soap Factory would still need to raise $1.5M-2M over five years to fully fund the construction project. The crowdfunding campaign discussed later in the FAQ will not only contribute to securing the financing to maintain control of the building, but also help us make great progress toward closing that $1.5M-2M gap. The most significant job the board will have once we get our organization back up and running will be to build a solid philanthropic base for the organization to fully fund the project, and to build the organization into the future.

What’s next for the Soap Factory?

We are spending the next six months doing everything we can to bring a financial deal to a close so that we can stay in the building. If we fail, we will be looking for another space in which to reinvent ourselves.

Who’s running the Soap Factory?

Executive Director, Bill Mague, and the Board of Directors are running the Soap Factory. Staff were furloughed July 2018, but have generously volunteered their time to help run operations on an as needed basis.

Why has it been so long since I’ve heard from you?

We really apologize for not communicating better during this time. We were trying to protect potential financing deals from the pessimism that can develop from the rumor mill if we let people know how difficult things had become. In retrospect, this was probably the wrong way to go, as we lost touch with the support of our community, which is what makes us strong as an organization. We really want to make this right, and make sure everyone knows what is going on right now. Thanks to everyone who has reached out as news of our challenges have reached the newspapers.

We are planning a town hall meeting for the first couple weeks of January. Details will be announced soon. Please come to hear more detailed explanations of where we are, and how we got here. We will be ready to answer your questions.

What can I do to help?

Some artists from our community have started a crowdfunding campaign. Here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-soap-let039s-help-buy-that-building-back. Donations would be very helpful. This campaign will help us prove the support of our community to the bank that is considering financing a mortgage for us. It will also help us show potential large donors the importance of the Soap to the community. The campaign could also help us significantly in paying off the $1.2MM debt before mid-June and securing our ownership of the building.

The board is also working on other specific needs so that we have a better answer for your many offers of assistance! Right now the big piece is really the financial deals we are trying to secure. But there will be things that we need help with, and if you have any ideas in the meantime, or any questions for us, please reach out to us at info@soapfactory.org.

The Dream For Our Building

For the last couple years, Soap Factory Staff and Board Members have been hard at work to make the Soap Factory a more sustainable organization to better serve our mission of supporting artists.

The renovations, while a significant update, will not interfere with the Soap Factory’s unique rugged aesthetic. Contractors are working hard to maintain the building’s historic appearance as well as ensure that the building gets the necessary care it needs to stay around for another 100 years. The Main Floor galleries will remain almost entirely untouched and will retain the size and raw appearance that they are known and loved for.

What the renovations will do is transform 35,000 sq ft of underutilized space into spaces that serve national, international, and local artists and our local community. We are so excited to see how these developments help the Soap Factory grow, increase programming opportunities, and reach a broader audience. We hope that you will stay tuned these next couple months as construction progresses and that you will join us to celebrate the re-opening this spring.

Renovations will make space for:

– New Exhibition Spaces

– Residency Studios

– Multi-use Community Room

– Restaurant

– Fully Renovated Woodshop

If you are interested in participating in our new residency program, applications are now open, learn more and apply here.

To receive updates about the renovations, including the residency program, the restaurant, and more sign up for our mailing list here.


Frequently asked questions:

1. Will the Soap Factory still own its building?  

Yes!  The Soap Factory will maintain ownership control of the building into perpetuity.

2.How much is the project going to cost?


3. Is all of the money raised?  

We have all of the money we need to complete construction.  We have a $2.0MM philanthropic need for which we will be seeking major benefactors during 2018 & 2019.

4.Will artists live at The Soap Factory?

No, the Soap Factory will not have any accommodations on-site.  All artists in residence will be housed in arrangements with neighborhood & community partners, and hotels.

5. Will there still be exhibitions?  

Yes!  The Soap Factory will continue to host 4-5 primary exhibitions each year in its main galleries.

6. Will there be a new building as part of the project?  

No. The project will renovate the existing building, bringing it up to code, providing new heating and cooling, elevators, stairs, windows, and roof.  The building will otherwise remain substantially as is.

7. Do you know what the restaurant will be?  

Not yet, the Soap Factory is currently in discussion with interested parties. 

8. Will additional parking be provided?  

No, while The Soap Factory currently exceeds parking requirements, we are actively engaged in discussions with neighborhood representatives and business owners to coordinate other parking options. We are also exploring alternative transportation options that will help minimize neighborhood impact. 

9. Does the neighborhood support this project?  

Yes!  We have strong support from the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association and are working closely with neighborhood and other institutional partners on information exchange and program coordination. Additionally, we are well connected to arts partner organizations throughout the Twin Cities in support of the project.

10. Is the Soap Factory adding new programs?  

Yes! The Soap Factory is inaugurating its Artists in Residence program (AIR) in 2018 in the lower level AIR Studios.  Between 12 and 18 artists from MN, nationally & internationally will work, create, curate & show new work, supported by the fantastic facilities, staff & community of the Soap Factory. 

11. This sounds exciting. How can I get involved?  

Response:  We’d love to have you!  Join our mailing list to receive ongoing updates and learn about opportunities. Sign up here.


Project Partners:

RJM ConstructionStudio M ArchitectsPreservation Design Works LLCEmanuelson-Podas IncOOIEEHansen Thorp Pellinen OlsonFaegre Baker DanielsHerzog Engineering, LLCMcknight Foundation, and Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Foundation