Arts Lab – Continuing The Vision Of A Downtown Arts Campus

This article was published at the end of September in the News Sentinel.  I had read about Arts United plan to expand their new facility by adding a “black box theatre” but hadn’t actually been able to find a rendering.  Stumbling upon this article a few minutes ago, I thought it would be a great share for the first post of the new year.  So Happy New Year everyone, and enjoy what I hope will become an exciting year for downtown development.

“Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne announced plans Thursday evening to add a 5,000-square-foot, “black box” space to the Auer Center for Arts and Culture that can be used for creative new art exhibits, music and theater performances, poetry readings and more.

Arts United announced the expansion plan after receipt of a $500,000 lead donation from the Madge Rothschild Foundation, said Jim Sparrow, Arts United executive director. The arts organization now will seek additional donations to cover the $1.5 million to $2 million cost of the project.

The addition, to be called ArtsLab, will be built on the east side of the Auer Center, 300 E. Main St., extending into some of the current parking lot. The parking area will be reconfigured, however, so the building will retain about the same number of parking spaces as it has now, Sparrow said.

Constructing the ArtsLab as an addition to the Auer Center will save money because the space can use the Auer Center lobby as a main entrance, hook into the Auer Center’s heating and cooling system, and share some operating expenses with other arts groups in the building, he said.

Arts United hopes to have enough money raised by spring to begin design work on the ArtsLab, Sparrow said. “We have 40 percent of the money raised,” he added.

Ideally, construction could begin in late 2012 and the space would be ready for use by the fall 2013 arts season, he said.

Unlike a traditional theater, ArtsLab will have a movable lighting grid, free-standing chairs that can be moved or removed easily, and staging that can be set up for a variety of uses, Sparrow said. Arts United envisions the space inspiring “the creation of innovative artistic programming and new cultural industries,” a news release said.

Drawings of what ArtsLab could look like were displayed at Arts United’s news conference Thursday evening, but Sparrow said those are just to help people visualize what the space can look like. Arts United will seek designs from local architects, he said, and the final version of ArtsLab could look different from the drawings displayed Thursday.

Arts United also hopes within six months to announce specific plans for an arts incubator program, which would encourage growth of new art-related businesses and entrepreneurship, Sparrow announced. The program likely will open with a visual-arts program and expand into other areas of the arts.

In addition, Sparrow said another priority will be installing coordinated signs, lighting and landscaping to tie together the various arts buildings downtown and create more of an arts campus feel.

The Auer Center will be one of the campus anchors, along with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Arts United Center.”

-News Sentinel


Categories: Arts Campus, Entertainment


  1. ArtsUnited ArtsLab Set For March 2013 Groundbreaking! | The Downtown Insider - November 28, 2012

    […] Additional information on ArtsLab can be found from a previous post HERE […]

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