Artspace Retools During Pandemic
The alternative arts gallery uses new technology to connect with audiences.
When COVID-19 shut down in-person gatherings, Artspace got creative. The New Haven alternative space and gallery used the opportunity to rethink how it engaged with audiences through on-line events and programs. Since reopening its doors, Artspace has used the new technology to expand artistic experiences and reach new audiences.
Artspace first tackled redesigning its outdated website to become viewable by mobile devices. A small grant from The Community Foundation supported the assessment and design of the project, and was leveraged to secure additional funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts and CT Humanities to complete the project.
The redeveloped website has been a “game-changer for the organization,” according to Executive Director Lisa Dent. The new site is ADA compliant, connecting Artspace to any user who relies on the use of assistive technologies.
Artspace used a two-year general operating support grant from The Community Foundation in 2020-21 to support various artistic activities. City-Wide Open Studios (CWOS), the annual month-long, visual artist festival produced by Artspace, went virtual in 2020. In 2021, Artspace transformed CWOS into the Open Source Festival and returned to in-person events around New Haven.
The new website helped Artpace extend programs to New Haven high school students, who primarily connect online through smartphones to open calls for exhibitions and applications to the Summer Artspace Program.
Artspace was founded by artists in 1987 as part of the alternative space movement.
Podcasts are now paired with digital presentations, creating a deeper experience of exhibits and reaching audiences beyond the physical gallery space. Artspace worked with The Narrative Project, a New Haven-based communications agency, to create an eight-episode podcast, "Revolution on Trial," as part of the 50-year anniversary recognition of the Black Panther trials in New Haven,
One of the Panthers who stood trial in 1970, Ericka Huggins, was scheduled to participate in various public programs around the city as part of the anniversary. While the pandemic canceled the in-person events, Huggins participated in a Facebook Live conversation with activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis that has been seen by more than 6,000 people.
“This helped me understand that given the right content, we can connect to the world,” says Dent.
Do you have a long-term interest in supporting local arts nonprofits or other causes you care about? Learn about charitable funds at The Community Foundation.