ART 180 was founded on the idea that young people deserve to find expression through art. Now, after a decade and a half of offering youth art programs in schools, community centers and anywhere else they could find the space, the nonprofit has decided that their young members are also worthy of a safe, inviting place that they can call their own.
Executive Director Marlene Paul and her team of passionate individuals dreamed up the idea for a downtown youth arts center when seeking funding from the Impact 100 grant. But after two years of disappointment, they made up their minds to move forward without the $100,000 prize. "We decided to blaze a trail without that pot of gold," says Paul, who instead ramped up her fundraising efforts.
Originally set on finding a classic gallery layout on Broad, Paul was skeptical about the Marshall Street property — a former bakery — that her realtor suggested. The more she considered the location's benefits (visible from the Art Walk, near Gallery5, yet still removed enough to provide some privacy), she knew she was in the right place.
Walter Parks Architects donated its time to create a new, welcoming interior, and asked ART180's Teen Council for input. Craftsman Brian Lopez was commissioned to build two huge tables to serve triple
duty as a work surface, meeting space and visual centerpiece using the self-portraits from ART 180's now infamous "What Do You Stand For?" project.
The ART 180 staff learned that even without the Impact 100 grant, they had what it took to get the ball rolling. When their third chance to win the grant came around, they tried again, but this time with the conviction that they'd find some way to make their dream space a reality. The 2012 recipient of the Impact 100 grant, ART 180, opened its newly renovated space on March 1 during First Fridays Art Walk .