The Box Factory for the Arts is Thankful



The Berrien Artist Guild/Box Factory for the Arts is thankful for its members who already have donated to the recent appeal for funding. Then came a telephone call from an unexpected source.

Last week the family of the late V. Jean Gast announced a donation of $15,000 to the Box Factory in memory of their mother.  The only stipulation is that members of the community must raise the funds to match the gift. It was their response to a letter recently sent to Berrien Artist Guild members asking for donations to help the struggling organization meet its financial obligations.

Jean Gast was a founding member of the Berrien Artist Guild in 1962 and actively involved in the purchase of the Box Factory building in 1995. She continued as an active board member, volunteer, and artist until her death in 2016. Jean and the late Sen. Harry Gast supported the Box Factory throughout their lifetimes.

“Jean was a good friend and mentor of mine for many years,” said Judy Sokolowski, president of the Board of Directors of the Berrien Artist Guild. “She was one of the first people I met when my husband, Dan, and I moved to St. Joe in 1996.”

“The Guild named the Box Factory classroom in her name acknowledging her years as an educator and for her dedication to the arts,” continued Sokolowski. “I am so happy her family is continuing her legacy in this way.”

Please consider donating to help support the Box by sending matching dollars to the V. Jean Gast Memorial c/o The Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085 or online with PayPal at For information, contact Judy Sokolowski, President of the Board of Directors, at jasoko@sbcglobal.netor by phone at 269-757-7181.

The Box Factory is facing this financial crisis because they have been unable to secure a tenant for the third-floor space vacated when a previous tenant purchased their own building and moved. The lost income, coupled with escalating utility costs and maintenance issues, has been a drain on all available resources. The organization has received a $25,000 challenge grant from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation for much needed repairs to the building’s roof; however, any money collected in donations earmarked for matching the Upton grant cannot be used for operations.

Over the years, Polaroid Digital Solutions, Whirlpool Corporation, and Fathom Works Advertising leased office space on the third floor or sky level. The exposed brick walls, heavy wood beams and natural light from clerestory windows provide amenable space like no other in the region of Western Michigan and Northern Indiana.

Half of the third-floor space has been developed into a blend of commercial office spaces and artists’ studios. The Box Factory is seeking the perfect tenant to join this eclectic melding of creative and commercial tenants. Interested parties should contact Jenny Waters at for details on having a presence at the Box.

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