Raleigh’s Artspace new term limits and more residencies increase opportunities for artists.
by Jess Moore
Sitting at the corner of Davie and Blount Street, Artspace has anchored the downtown Raleigh art scene for over 25 years. Inside the deceptively unassuming building, on any given day, there are over 30 professional artists, 2 artists-in-residents, several exhibition spaces, and numerous arts education programs. All in furtherance of Artspace’s mission – to inspire individual creativity by engaging the community in the process of the visual arts by presenting quality exhibitions and educational programs within an open studio environment.
But in recent years, Artspace’s Board has struggled with how to keep its open studio environment dynamic and relevant to the community, while also expanding ArtSpace’s opportunities for studios, residencies and exhibitions to more artists. I recently talked to Artspace’s Executive Director, Mary Poole, and Director of Programs and Exhibitions, Lia Newman, to learn more about how they’ve addressed this issue. As Mary Poole explained, “When Artspace first opened its doors 25 years ago, the Board and leadership did not consider the need for creating a limit on how long an artist could maintain studio space” in the building. But recently, “we recognized how Raleigh, its downtown, and arts community has gone through considerable change and growth, so we wanted to make sure Artspace was remaining vibrant and dynamic in keeping up with these changes. Artspace needs to remain relevant with the changing environment.”
In short, ArtSpace Board approved three changes to the organization’s operational policies, including 1) Term limits for tenant studio artists, 2) A review process for subsequent studio terms, and 3) Plans to expand its artist residency program.
Term limits and new review process
In order to become an Artspace studio artist, you must first be juried into the Artspace Artists Association. If interested in studio space, members of the Association put their name on a list for a studio – a first come-first served process. Under the newly established term limits, once an artist is in the building, they can stay 3 years with the possibility to extend for two more periods of 3 years. After 9 years, an artist must take a one-year break before he/she can apply again for studio space.
After the conclusion of the first three years, the artist must now go through a review process to continue for another three years. This review is not a curatorial/juried process, but instead it is more of a review of the artist’s development. Newman explains, “We want Artspace to be a place where artists feel energetic about their work — not a place where they plateau. The review process is more of a check for both sides that the relationship is mutually beneficial.” The review is a formalized communication process – a chance for artists to reassess where they are in their development as a professional and evaluate whether Artspace is still the place for them to work.
So what does Artspace hope to accomplish with these new term limits? Two ideas are at play here. Artspace is building a more dynamic environment that will attract a larger contingent of repeat visitors. Newman compared this to visiting your local museum, explaining, “I always visit the traveling exhibitions at our local museums, but don’t go through the entire permanent collection on every visit. I seek out the pieces I love. The same could be said for Artspace visitors.” Museums know that you’re not going to get repeat visitors if they never change their exhibitions and Artspace is addressing the same issue. They want to keep their audience happy and, with increased studio turnover, as well as additional artists-in-residence, repeat visitors now have the opportunity to see, and hopefully buy, more art by more artists. Ultimately, Artspace believes these changes will “further expand the breadth of what we present in the building over time and will provide opportunities for more artists in the community”, according to Poole.
Increased emphasis on residencies
Artspace also will be working towards increasing the residency opportunities for artists in the building. This year, they added two more six-month residencies, which doubles their previous residency placements. The spaces for residencies have also changed, moving to the second floor to Studios 215 and 215A. For more information on how to apply for Artspace residencies, click here.
Artspace is already seeing the effect of the term limits and their expanded residency program. Poole mentioned, “In June, there were some artists that were ready to move on and with those artists moving out and the expansion of the residency program, we actually had six new artists move in the building in July.” Although a small change in the way that they operate, the term limits and added residencies will open up many new opportunities for Artspace member-artists, studio-artists, artists in the community, and visitors, ensuring Artspace’s place as an anchor in Raleigh’s growing art scene.
Do you have something to say to the Triangle arts and creative community? Be a writer or guest blogger for ArtWorks!
Do you have news to share? Help us keep this community informed! Email
Tags: artist residencies, Artspace, Raleigh, visual arts