The SPACES of Today
SPACES is the only visual arts organization in Ohio that solely commissions the creation of new art. We develop an interconnected community through barrier-free access to contemporary culture and provide international, national, and local artists the freedom to create works of art that help us see the world in unexpected ways.
Each year SPACES produces 13 public projects of conceptually-driven work through 3 main programs. The SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP) is a residency that provides visiting artists and art critics significant support and opportunity to interact with the community while creating new work. R&D (Research & Development) invites artists to articulate their ideas through a supported public project. The Vault is a selection of curated video and audio art that annually features the work of approximately 40 artists. SPACES hosts up to 50 events annually, in the form of gallery openings, workshops, lectures, and tours for groups, including schools and underserved youth.
Alongside Cleveland Museum of Art, MOCA Cleveland, Transformer Station, and other organizations, SPACES has earned Cleveland a prestigious position on the national stage of contemporary art. With one-of-a-kind programming, recognition as an innovative leader in the cultural sphere, leadership in place at the board and staff levels, and sound fiscal management, we are poised for this major change.
Read our 2015 Annual Report to learn more about the organization.
SPACES developed a strategic plan in 2010 that focused on the impact our home at 2220 Superior Viaduct was having on programming, capacity-building, community impact, and organizational infrastructure. Due to costly repairs, a shortage of parking, and the absence of neighboring peer organizations, the building was no longer positively contributing to the way we function.
Our strategic plan set a goal of moving to a facility that would allow for more flexible design and enable a shift in the organization’s culture that is consistent with other exciting developments taking place throughout Cleveland. The building was sold in November 2013 and we entered into a leaseback arrangement permitting SPACES to remain on Superior Viaduct through November 2016, while a new site is secured.
A City-Wide Search for a Home to Match our Mission
A new home featuring increased accessibility, programming for diverse audiences, and better services for local and visiting artists, will allow SPACES to respond to the changing needs expressed by our creative community.
After careful consideration of six different Cleveland neighborhoods, we conducted an internal evaluation of the Hingetown part of Ohio City and focused our efforts on finding a site that connects the resurgent W. 25th Street area with the Gordon Square Arts District. In the words of Plain Dealer Architecture Critic Steve Litt, this area is “quickly becoming a West Side cultural mecca.”
A New Collaboration Propels the Energy in Hingetown
In July 2015, art collectors and philanthropists Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell purchased the Van Rooy Coffee building at the corner of W. 29th St. & Detroit Ave, with SPACES designated as their preferred co-occupant. A shared arts-related focus between SPACES and the Bidwells strategically positions this partnership to complement the existing cultural offerings and further activate the Detroit corridor on the near west side of Cleveland.
The SPACES of Tomorrow
Outfitted with dedicated classroom space for community engagement initiatives, live/work space for our exhibiting artists, workshop areas for members of the public, 2 galleries with 13 foot ceilings, a screening room for video work, and outdoor secured parking, the new LEED certified home of SPACES will become a platform for cultural producers and audiences to exchange ideas. Rooftop access with views of Lake Erie will provide an inspiring site for performances and social gatherings.
A Force for Positive Change
SPACES can become an anchor of Hingetown. In addition to serving its own long-range goals, the project will have a “ripple effect,” contributing to the wider development efforts in Hingetown and throughout Cleveland. We are already forming deep partnerships with our future neighbors and helping to give rise to a distinct local economy. With 6 staff members, 5 independent contractors, 28 board members, and a small army of volunteers, the SPACES family and our visitors will generate an economic spin-off that will contribute to the establishment of businesses opening in the area.
This part of Ohio City perfectly lends itself to collaborations and artistic interventions—from activating public space, to creating new forums for community dialogue, to providing eager audiences for our expanding youth and family programs. Our Detroit Avenue-facing windows will transform into sites for artistic interventions. Creative signage and facade lighting will accentuate the architecture and serve as a beacon, increasing safety on the north side of Detroit Avenue and drawing the kind of walk-in traffic our world-class exhibitions deserve.
Throwing Our Doors Wide Open
We conservatively estimate that a move to Hingetown will nearly triple our annual attendance in the first year alone. Hingetown’s growing status as a destination for people living outside the area, its increased cycling and pedestrian traffic, accessibility via public transportation, and centrality among other nodes of activity, will attract new audiences to SPACES.
We have already begun to prepare for the significant changes we anticipate in our visibility and neighborhood context by developing the Community Engagement Manager staff position, to oversee our Creative Engagement Campaign. Michelle Epps, who created the education department for the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, is now spearheading projects at SPACES that offer new approaches to appreciating contemporary art and forge deeper connections between our audience and the organization.
SPACES is turning the ground floor of the Van Rooy Coffee building into a separate parcel from the rest of the building and we are purchasing it at a deeply discounted price, thanks to the generosity of the Bidwells, who are also financing our mortgage at a below-market rate. As owners of our own parcel, we will benefit from our tax-exempt status and make capital improvements that contribute to our bottom line.
Of the $3.5 million capital campaign goal, $2.475 million is for acquisition and construction, and $1.025 million is for a SPACES Future Fund. A portion of the SPACES Future Fund will be used to offset the projected increase of our annual budget. The balance will be allocated to an endowment that will be held in an investment account; investment income earned will be applied toward growing SPACES and its programs.