Leaders at AS220 are working on a new consulting venture dubbed “Practice, Practice” that will codify and share policies and practices that have helped the nonprofit center for the arts grow.
Founded in 1985 with $800 supplied by Umberto Crenca, the nonprofit’s co-founder and artistic director, AS220 today has a budget of $4.1 million and has been credited with contributing to the creation of the Providence Arts and Entertainment District.
With 58 artists living and/or working in residence at three different buildings in downtown Providence, and 60 full- and part-time employees, AS220 provides a home not only for unjuried and uncensored art, but also for four exhibition spaces, a print shop, media lab, fabrication lab, stage, black-box theater and dance and recording studios. AS220 also features a bar and restaurant.
More than the sum of those parts, says Crenca, AS220 has evolved over the years to the point where he and other leaders are sought after for the insight they can provide into how to meld core values with business practices that help sustain the arts organization and make it thrive. Some of those beliefs include equal pay for all and shared responsibilities through stewardship.
Crenca has lectured and consulted for years, most recently with organizations from Memphis to Philadelphia and New Zealand, with little or no compensation, save covered travel expenses. However, other community organizations are reaching out to AS220 with such frequency that a consultancy with a business plan and fee structure will formalize what has been, to date, an informal practice, said Crenca.
“They’re finding AS220,” Crenca said, referring to other arts organizations, individual artists, and like-minded groups who might seek out consulting services.