In January of 2018, Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs made the change from a for-profit business to a nonprofit arts organization. This change started as they began to take a closer look at how they have grown over the past five years, and where they would like to go in the future. In this process, it became apparent that the mission and goals of Main Street Arts have evolved into that of a nonprofit organization. Main Street Arts received their official 501(c)(3) status in November 2018.
Artist in Residence, Meredith Olinger of Memphis, TN (October, 2018)
“When we opened our doors in June of 2013, we were strictly an art gallery – a place to see exhibitions, purchase artwork and handcrafted gifts. As we started to evolve, we began offering workshops and working with area art teachers to host an annual student painting exhibition. We also created an artist residency program. These initiatives are not typically seen at a commercial art gallery,” stated Bradley Butler, gallery director and curator.
As a nonprofit arts organization, the mission of Main Street Arts is to promote the work of regional and national artists and to encourage the creation of art and foster art education.
Promoting the work of regional artists has always been one of the main goals of the gallery. Main Street Arts will continue to present thoughtful and engaging exhibitions. They will also continue to represent a small roster of artists from the region, a program that launched in April, 2018. And twice per year, national juried exhibitions will still be a part of the gallery’s programming.
Encaustic workshop with artist in residence, Ali Herrmann of Lenox, MA during her residency (September, 2017)
Looking ahead, some of the biggest areas of growth for the gallery will be in its outreach with the community – encouraging the creation of art and fostering art education. Main Street Arts will continue to grow its artist residency program which gives artists from all over the country and Canada time and space to focus on their work. The gallery will also work to strengthen its connection with area school districts, expand workshop offerings for the community including youth workshops, and host free events that allow the regional community to experience arts and culture in the small town of Clifton Springs.
Over the past 5 years, the staff at Main Street Arts has had the opportunity to work with students at the gallery through hands-on art making experiences like workshops, and visits to the gallery to talk about exhibitions or a specific media such as photography or painting. These experiences have included field trips from local schools and visits from several Girl Scout troops. Each year the gallery also hosts a Student Painting Exhibition for area students in grades 6 through 12 which gives students an opportunity to see their work hanging in an exhibition.
“We are in a unique position that allows us to give young people a chance to experience and create art within a gallery setting,” said Sarah Butler, gallery manager. “Our goal is to expand our outreach by offering youth programming with a focus on this type of immersive art experience. These experiences include weekly after school programs held at the gallery, field trips to the gallery from local schools, and visits from gallery staff and artists to schools as guest speakers.”
In spring of 2019, Main Street Arts will start offering scholarships to artists in need of financial support as they take part in the artist residency program. This will make the program more accessible and available to a larger number of artists, making more of an impact on the larger creative community. Artists have 24-hour access to a studio and facility for a one-month or two-months residency. This opportunity can be an important experience for an artist, giving them time away from regular life to focus on their work.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the gallery is now beginning the process of fundraising for these initiatives. If you are interested in supporting the mission of Main Street Arts, visit www.MainStreetArtsGallery.com/support
“With eight exhibitions per year, new artists in residence in the studios each month, and a schedule of workshops and events, there’s always something new to experience. We highly encourage you to visit us to see everything we have to offer,” Bradley Butler shared.
Main Street Arts is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.– 6 p.m. and as always gallery admission is free and open to the public.