Vital Spaces recognizes that affordable studio space and equitable access to exhibition opportunities are critical to the health and diversity of Santa Fe's creative culture. We seek to support artists by offering both short-term rent-free or low-rent spaces and long-term support through microloans, community building, and educational and collaborative initiatives and events.Santa Fe's artistic history is rich and deep. It is also threatened by rising property costs, costs of living, and social, political and economic forces that breed homogeneity and suppress artistic growth by limiting access to resources and opportunities.
Our vision is a city in which people of all ages, backgrounds, orientations, economic status, or and artistic disciplines have equal access to space for creating and showing their work.
Santa Fe is an international arts destination. It’s also a rapidly changing city, with a story inseparable from overlapping histories of colonization and displacement. Downtown rents are prohibitive or out of reach for most emerging artists or artists whose work isn’t guaranteed to sell by strict adherence to the mainstream style and media, and the high barriers to entry in the arts and entrepreneurship discourage experimentation and further disadvantage communities that are already marginalized in the public sphere. Vital Spaces wants to honor Santa Fe’s history by shaping a more equitable, inventive, and generous future, by providing space for people to create and build community power through art.
What kinds of artists is Vital Spaces working to serve?
Vital Spaces supports artists whose work is underrepresented or marginalized in the mainstream Santa Fe art scene. This includes artists from low-income backgrounds, from communities that have experienced historical and ongoing oppression, emerging artists, artists without formal training, artists who work between or at the edge of disciplines or whose work is impermanent and not commercializable, and anyone who is ambitious and dedicated in their practice and can’t afford the high rents of downtown.
Why in rotating vacant spaces? Why not in a single permanent location?
Occupying an ever-shifting and varied array of spaces large and small across Santa Fe allows us to integrate more seamlessly into the fabric of the city. Every Vital Spaces site will be used differently, in accordance and engagement with its location, cost, features and assets, and the needs of the surrounding neighborhood and the artist occupying it. The short-term nature of some of our occupations encourages experimentation, lowering the stakes for artists and makers to take risks and test new models for public participation. Because the spaces are donated or highly discounted, there is less pressure to make work that is sellable, marketable, or immediately successful. Because we are present in a variety of ways, in a multitude of spaces throughout the city, we are constantly engaging new and different audiences, instead of being confined to a single neighborhood. Our goal is to break the barriers that keep artists isolated from their neighbors, both spatially and socially, and to build an inclusive creative community that supports a wealth of social interaction, cross-pollination, and public participation in the creative process. Through doing this, we seek also to breathe life into spaces that have been sitting empty, and shift community relations to spaces and neighborhoods.