ArtCenter Manatee, founded in 1937, is the premier visual arts center in Manatee County, with significant reach into Sarasota County as well as Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. Our visitors come from across the country, Canada and Europe. As our community has grown and changed, so has the ArtCenter, adding classes, exhibits and other programming to meet the diverse needs of the fast growing community. We have a free arts and healing program for adults with dementia and offer scholarships for children in need to our KidsArt summer camps and afterschool programs (30 to 50 a year). Our hours have been expanded to meet diverse student and instructor schedules. Our building is 67 years old and cannot handle our current capacity needs – either for space or systems.
Over the years, we have upgraded the facility but we are at the point where that is no longer possible. A new Center will allow us to meet current and future community needs by adding and expanding classrooms, galleries, the artisan market, storage and office space and providing upgraded systems: plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and audio/visual/Internet, as well as adding a community park and sculpture garden along 9th St W and 3rd Ave – newly named Avenue of the Arts.
The building will go from 10,000 SF to 28.000 SF. The park will add invaluable green space to our downtown area, leading to Riverwalk, a community park on the Manatee River, and making the area more walkable. The sculpture garden will bring art outside our walls and will be open to all. It will be a place where people can sit quietly or gather with friends and other artists. We will be able to add small scale music and performance art as well as healing elements, such as meditation and yoga to the garden.
We are embracing the concept of flinging open the doors and making art truly accessible to everyone. No barriers.
The new Center will be built on the land immediately adjacent to us on the east. Once the new Center is complete, we will raze the current building and create the community park and sculpture garden, creating a beautiful entrance into our community.
Having started life in a series of rented rooms for discussions, classes and exhibits, reaching a limited audience, the new ArtCenter will be a gathering place for artists, the community, and visitors, accessible to all. Classes in new media as well as the traditional arts, exhibits for established artists as well as students, emerging artists and experimental artists. Real storage space for display pedestals, clay and other materials. Systems that work and allow interactivity in the classrooms for audio visual presentations and Internet connectivity. And an outdoor area that respects the environment, and materials that are as earth- and people-friendly as we can make them.
The new Center will be the centerpiece in the new cultural corridor in Bradenton, providing accessibility to all, and a beautiful entrance into our community. It will be located on the newly named Avenue of the Arts (formerly 3rd Ave), or as we like to say, the intersection of arts and culture in our community, with our neighbors, the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature and the Manatee Performing Arts Center by our sides. Downtown Bradenton will be a destination for the arts.