Tashiro Kaplan groundbreaking

Mission & History

Building better communities through the arts

Artspace's mission is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations


Established in 1979 to serve as an advocate for artists’ space needs, Artspace effectively fulfilled that mission for nearly a decade. By the late 1980s, however, it was clear that the problem required a more proactive approach, and Artspace made the leap from advocate to developer. Since then, the scope of Artspace's activities has grown dramatically. Artspace is now a national leader in the field of developing affordable space that meets the needs of artists through the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and new construction.

Artspace’s first three live/work projects were in Saint Paul: the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Cooperative (1990), Frogtown Family Lofts (1992), and Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative (1993). In the mid-1990s, Artspace broadened its mission to include non-residential projects. The first of these, the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art (1995), transformed an historic bakery in the Minneapolis Warehouse District into 24 studios for mid-career artists. 

Since then, Artspace has expanded its range of activities to include projects in operation or development in more than 20 states across the nation. In all, these projects represent nearly 2,000 live/work units and millions of square feet of non-residential community and commercial space. Artspace has evolved from a Minnesota organization with a few national projects into a truly national organization based in the Twin Cities, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans and Washington DC.

Artspace programs fall in three broad categories: Property Development, Asset Management, and Consulting Services. 

Property Development

Development projects, which typically involve the adaptive reuse of older buildings but can also involve new construction, are the most visible of Artspace’s activities. To date, we have completed more than 35 major projects. A dozen more are under construction or in the development pipeline. Artspace live/work projects are operating from coast to coast. 

Asset Management

Artspace owns or co-owns all the buildings it develops; our portfolio now comprises more than $500 million worth of real property. We strive to manage our properties so that they will be well-maintained yet remain affordable to the low- and moderate-income artists for whom they were developed in the first place. Revenues in excess of expenses are set aside for preventive maintenance, commons area improvements, and building upgrades.

Consulting Services

In addition to its roles as developer, owner, and manager, Artspace acts as a consultant to communities, organizations, and individuals seeking information and advice about developing affordable housing and work space for artists, performing arts centers, and cultural districts, often within the context of historic preservation.

View the Artspace Timeline




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