In 2008, more than 300 concerned citizens participated in a series of community meetings, design workshops and surveys focused on the challenges faced by artists in San Diego— a shortage of affordable work studios and work/live spaces; a lack of venues for emerging artists to perform and show their work; and a general disconnect between artists and the surrounding community.
These meetings generated the guiding fundamental principles of Space 4 Art. In 2009, Space 4 Art signed a lease for an interim Arts Center in three adjacent warehouses located in San Diego’s East Village. For six months, professionals worked with volunteers in a series of “community builds," fabricating modular panels and outfitting each studio to match the artistic needs of the tenant. Later, and with community, support, an outdoor stage and a classroom were built.
In 2013, Space 4 Art was granted not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status. Since that time, Space 4 Art has engaged in ever-more innovative community outreach and creative place-making. In addition to providing live/work space and exhibiting the work of hundreds of artists over the years, Space 4 Art has served the broader community through educational outreach programs with schools that serve historically disadvantaged students.
Because of the forces of gentrification and the instability of the rental market, Space 4 Art's founders always foresaw the need to buy land on which to build a permanent home. In 2014, the Board of Directors purchased a half-acre lot at 2529 Market Street in Sherman Heights and began the process of designing, fundraising, and building out the permanent home. Partnering with students from King Chavez and High Tech High Chula Vista Space 4 Art architects and artists developed the "Tiny House" project to design and build small-scale work/live spaces that will be integrated into the permanent home. The first full-scale prototype was completed in Spring, 2016.
In Spring 2017, Space 4 Art lost its indoor galleries and classrooms, and some live-work and work spaces to ongoing gentrification in the East Village. This challenged us to create an offshoot of "Tiny House," once again in partnership with High Tech High and King Chavez students. Led by Space 4 Art architects, artists, and volunteers, the students designed and built an interim gallery, amphitheater, and boardwalk at the permanent home site. Completed in June, 2017, the "Tiny Homes/Big Community" project allows Space 4 Art to continue to serve artists and the community during this transitional period between our smaller East Village facility and our future Sherman Heights home.
The permanent structure, scheduled to break ground in 2019, is envisioned as a 45,000 square-foot complex with a community gathering space, 30 affordable work-live artist units, 20 work-only studios, a gallery, four classrooms, a wood/metal shop, and an outdoor amphitheater.
In all of its facilities— past, present, and future —Space 4 Art serves a place where students, families and communities connect with the arts and working artists for the betterment of the entire San Diego community.