AS220 is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide an unjuried and uncensored forum for the local Providence art community. It is located downtown in the Arts and Entertainment District along with the nearby Trinity Repertory Company, Providence Performing Arts Center and NewGate Theater. Its 22,600 square-foot and three-story complex contains art galleries, artist studios, a darkroom, printshop, café and stage.
The building at 115 Empire originally housed a number of small jewelry shops in the 1960s.
AS220 was originally located at 220 Weybosset Street above Providence Center for Performing Arts. The name AS220 is taken from this address while the “AS” stands for Art Space. The acronym is a reference to New York City’s art spaces PS1 and PS122. For a brief period it relocated to 73 Richmond Street over former Club Babyhead what is now Club Hell. In 1994, AS220 moved to its current location.
The ground floor consists of the stage and café. The stage provides a venue for a variety of performances including music concerts and poetry slams. The café offers an open, casual atmosphere where people are free to loiter about or just stop in for a chat. This space, as all of AS220’s public space, doubles as a gallery accommodating two or three artists at a time. There is also a small seating alcove near the storefront window that has been turned into the Open Window Gallery for newer artists and smaller exhibits. The narrow stairwell to the second floor has also been converted into the Brick Wall Gallery for a small exhibition by a single artist.
The second floor contains the AS220 office and work studios. The studios, rented to artists, provide a space to create art, practice music, etc. Their sizes range from 140 to 518 square feet. The long corridor joining the studios is also used as a gallery space. At the end of the hallway, across from the office, is the Upstairs Gallery. It is the largest, most formal gallery space in the entire building. It is ideal, but not exclusive, for sculpture and installation.
The third floor is artists’ residence and studio space. Closed off to the public, these spaces are rented to artists to live and work. They are about the same sizes as the work studios, but include common kitchen and bathroom facilities. Both the work and residential environments are cooperative. Artists are responsible for communal chores and proper maintenance of shared facilities. There are about nineteen studios total.
The Darkroom and Printshop are located in the basement, but have been closed due to both damage and code violations. They will be relocated either to the first or second floor. These communal facilities are available to the public. People are able to silk-screen, make photographic prints and bind chapbooks.
AS220 has also leased space to the non-profit organization Perishable Theater. Located at 95 Empire Street, it has office space, a theater that seats 65 and the Groundwerks Dance Studio.
Broad Street Studios
The Broad Street Studios are group of youth outreach programs based on those at AS220. Such programs include the Broad Street Orchestra and the Broad Street Press. They are designed to give young people the opportunity to be creative and a chance to be heard. Its 3,000 square-foot facility is located on the South Side at 790 Broad Street.
Miro Johnson, Maria. “The Art of Cooperation.” Providence Journal. March 19, 2000.
Wallace, Shawn (Managing Director). Interview, November 2003. http://www.as220.orghttp://www.arts4allpeople.org