Mission & History

Mission

Artspace is a visual arts center inspiring innovation through opportunities to experience the creative process and engage with artists.

Vision

Artspace is a widely known and highly valued non-profit visual arts leader in the Southeast. It is a locus of opportunity for the curious of all ages where innovation and creativity are explored, experienced, shared and celebrated.

We Believe

Artspace exists to inspire creative energy through exposing, engaging, and educating all in the community about the creative process. Artspace believes in supporting the careers and development of artists of all levels by providing time and space to work, the opportunity to engage with other artists locally and outside of the community, exposure to the community through exhibiting their work, and professional development opportunities. Artspace serves the public by introducing them to diverse artistic styles from artists both inside and outside of the area and by further educating them regarding the creative process. We believe in creating avenues whereby the public and artists can come together to engender a better understanding and commitment to the visual arts. At Artspace we host an environment in which artists of all levels and ages can learn and exchange ideas.

Whatever boundaries one may face to experiencing the creative process (the stigma of elitism, expensive classes, physical disabilities, etc), Artspace breaks down those barriers by being accessible and real. We believe that nourishing the soul is vitally important to our community’s well-being. We would be remiss if we did not reach out to everyone in the community as we seek to improve the community as a whole. By bringing free art programming to children and adults where they live and play, we are breaking down the barriers of cost and transportation that may hinder many economically-disadvantaged families from participating in arts education.

Artspace challenges members of our community to appreciate and learn from art, to express themselves, and to positively engage in and influence their surroundings. By doing so, we hope to create leaders of tomorrow that will follow their intuition and inspire others to think creatively to address community issues.

History

Located in downtown Raleigh in the historic Sanders Ford building, the Artspace facility was once the city’s livery and later Sanders Ford Car Dealership. Today this 30,000 square foot facility is home to over 30 artists working in a variety of media, along with three exhibition spaces, education space, a gift shop, and administrative offices. Artspace is one of the largest open studio environments in the country and the premier organization of its kind in North Carolina.

The concept of opening an art center and cultural corridor in downtown Raleigh originated from a group of community leaders who approached the City of Raleigh in 1980 with this vision. The Raleigh Arts Commission established a task force to explore the need and interest in a multipurpose art facility. This committee made 2 recommendations: 1) the Sanders Ford building as the best location for the art center and 2) the art center incorporate as a nonprofit organization.

In 1986, the City Market area suffered from problems relating to urban decay and was in need of revitalization. In many ways Artspace and its founders were pioneers in downtown Raleigh, convincing arts organizations and artists to join them in creating this new visual art center and bringing visitors to a then blighted area.

Since 1986, Artspace has continued to evoke excitement in the community and raise awareness of the arts by providing a unique environment where artists can collaborate, where the public can interact with working artists and experience firsthand the creative process, and where children and adults can learn to express their own creativity in classes and workshops.

Since its inception, Artspace has inspired more than 2 million visitors and served as the heart of Raleigh’s visual art community. Artspace offers more than 100,000 visitors annually over 30 challenging and award-winning exhibitions, interactive workshops to over 2,000 school-aged children each year, art programming for at-risk youth, classes and workshops to over 3,000 youth and adults annually, and approximately 100 public events open to all in the community free of charge.