The Windgate Foundation has awarded two grants with a combined value of $950,000 to Artspace, the national nonprofit real estate developer for the arts that has been active in Arkansas for the last three years.

The larger grant will provide $650,000 for the predevelopment of an Artspace mixed-use project in the Little Rock/North Little Rock area. The project, on a site to be selected, will provide affordable live/work housing for artists plus space for non-residential uses such as studios, offices, galleries, and arts-friendly retail. Funds will support site selection, project conception, architectural design, financial modeling, and an application to obtain competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and other sources of public/private funding and financing, and other activities that lead to the project’s construction.

An additional gift for predevelopment has been pledged by John and Robyn Horn, Little Rock-based artists, and philanthropists.

The second grant earmarks $300,000 for “Immersion,” an Artspace training program that helps arts and cultural nonprofits quantify, plan for, and successfully address their space needs. Little Rock will be the fourth metropolitan community to participate in the 12-month program, which Artspace previously conducted in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Memphis.

“We are delighted to support these projects with Artspace,” said Windgate Foundation Executive Director Patricia M. Forgy. “Their expertise in forging partnerships across the community to create pathways for affordable space for our creative residents and organizations is a fantastic fit for Central Arkansas. A successful project will provide a significant boost to arts-driven economic development for our area.

“We are honored to be working in ‘the Rocks,’” said Wendy Holmes, Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting, who has led the Artspace effort in Central Arkansas. “There is great passion, talent, and need for affordable artist housing and related space here.” A recent Artspace survey of individual artists revealed 825 artists interested in live/work housing, studio, and other kinds of creative workspace in the Little Rock/North Little Rock area.

Artspace has been a frequent visitor to Little Rock and North Little Rock since early 2019, when the Windgate Foundation invited the nonprofit to conduct a Preliminary Feasibility Study followed by an Arts Market Study, the first two steps in the process Artspace uses to gather information about a community that is interested in having an Artspace project.

Forgy said the foundation hopes that the timing of the award will enable Artspace to meet a March 2021 deadline for submitting a Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) application to the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, a prerequisite to moving forward.

The Immersion program participants, which will involve thirty individuals from 10 Little Rock/North Little Rock arts groups, will apply to be a part of the program and could begin as early as the summer of 2020.

About Windgate Foundation

Windgate Foundation, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, is a private, family foundation supporting significant educational programs in craft and visual arts; funding for K-12 and higher educational institutions for the development and support of the arts, scholarships and effective instructional programs; and programs for disadvantaged children in Arkansas. Since 1993, Windgate has approved over $812 million in grants in 48 states. For more information, please visit  www.windgatefoundation.org

About Artspace

Founded in 1979, Artspace is a national nonprofit whose mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable and sustainable space for artists and arts organizations. Through the adaptive reuse of historic buildings as well as new construction, Artspace creates affordable places for artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises, retaining ownership to ensure that the buildings remain affordable. Artspace’s unique portfolio includes more than 50 projects nationwide. Based in Minneapolis with offices in New York, Seattle, and Washington D.C., Artspace is renowned as America’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts and arts-based community development. Artspace also leverages its expertise to support the next generation of transformative art spaces through a robust consulting division that has worked on more than 250 projects, including city-wide planning projects, arts districts, and more. Embracing the value that the arts bring to individual lives, Artspace champions the once-radical idea that the arts can leverage fundamental social change. For more information, please visit www.artspace.org.

About Artspace Immersion 

Immersion was designed specifically for arts and cultural nonprofits that need to plan for new space. With a longitudinal, cohort-based approach, Immersion builds organizational capacity as it empowers arts leaders to make informed decisions about space. By participating in the cohort, these organizations receive expert guidance, local connections, and a learning community to help them navigate the real estate process. For more information, please visit www.artspaceimmersion.org.