Geographically our focus is Issaquah, Sammamish, South Bellevue, Newcastle, Maple Valley, north Renton, Snoqualmie, Fall City and North Bend – generally an East King County and I-90 corridor area. Our downtown Issaquah location is very important to our mission because of its accessibility, proximity to schools, community centers and civic partners and its ability to enliven an historic downtown.
We serve more than 200 member visual artists. Our membership includes both emerging and established artists. ArtEAST plays a significant role in helping emerging artists learn, collaborate and grow through our Professional Development events and mentoring activities. Our programs help artists gain exposure by providing a place to exhibit, sell, create, learn, teach and share.
We also serve the general community from school students to seniors. Most of our community programs are free and family friendly and all of them make art accessible and inviting. A large percentage of the participants in our workshops are adult parents with school-age children or retired adults looking to bring art back into their lives. Our new art center allows us to prioritize and develop new programs for art docents, teens and visitors to the community.
artEAST is organized as a member driven 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. The founding members envisioned a place where the visual arts become a stimulus to the local economy and a collaborator with local community initiatives. The Art Center and its growing array of annex facilities serve the Issaquah community by providing: a learning center, an exhibition space, and a community gathering place. The center’s in-house retail gallery; experiential program offerings; and ongoing professional non-profit exhibitions and artists’ presentations are a magnet for community art practitioners, art lovers, and art supporters.
However, artEAST’s goals do not stop at the front door. Our programs not only reach out to the surrounding communities, but the organization’s growing impact can be felt throughout the greater Puget Sound region through ongoing partnerships and increasing visitors. artEAST Art Center Educational Programs Education Programs take place in the Art Center Classroom, Hailstone Classroom and off-site facilities depending on the need. 100+ art classes and workshops on a wide range of mediums and techniques Artists’ talks, lectures, panel discussions, critique, sales training and curatorial training for artists and art supporters Art docent and art teacher support workshops in partnership with PTAs and schools artEAST Art Center Exhibition and Sales Programs Permanent Sales Gallery (co-op style, retail gallery supporting 80+ artEAST members) artEAST professionals curate 8 to 10 unique group, themed shows each year Guest Artist and Gallery Exchange programs engage regional artists of note.
artEAST Art Center Community Programs & Gathering Place The Art Center is open 6 days a week, 11am to 8pm and often longer depending on community program schedules. Gallery sales staff is aware of the Art Center’s role as an informal visitors’ center, answering inquiries on hiking trails, community events and restaurants.
The following programs are free or heavily subsidized to encourage accessibility and participation. Seasonal Art Walks, Art Demonstrations and Marketplace Events Opening Receptions for exhibitions and Artist Lectures Drop- in art making programs Gallery Rental and Custom Art Events
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In November 2010 artEAST was thrilled to meet our 5-year goal of securing an art center for our community and members. It is not hyperbole to state that opening an arts center is a major accomplishment for artEAST and a pivotal event for our organization and the community. We moved forward during tough economic times because of the unique opportunity to acquire and preserve a beloved old hardware store, perfectly sized and located to ensure gallery success, easy collaboration with other organizations and exceptional accessibility to the exploding growth around Issaquah. artEAST is a grassroots organization and we opened the art center primarily with funds, labor and donations provided by our members and individual community volunteers. Our members provided more than 400 hours of volunteer time each week during our initial two months of operations and continue to support the art center and community art programs with 200 hours of volunteer service each week.
The opening of the new art center resulted in explosive growth in exhibition sales, membership, visitors and the number of education and community programs. Our gallery and exhibition programs saw dramatic increased interest from local artists as well as artists from the Puget Sound area. We enlivened the summer art walks and street scene of the downtown area. We do not underestimate the profound impact this new art center will have on all aspects of our organization. This new home represents the beginning of a significant period of growth and change for the organization as we strive to increase our services to the community and the artists.
In the last twelve months we have been able to increase the number of workshops offered from a handful to more than 120 classes, reaching 500 students and supporting 40 instructors. We are able to display the art of more than 300 local artists, directly connecting the community with the artists whose hands create the work. We now offer three community programs each month including artist demonstrations, artist talks and exhibition openings. We now enliven the street each summer with ArtEAST Artist Alley – a place for the community to see art being created and create art themselves. We are active participants in the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Committee, Downtown Issaquah Associations and we partner with other non-profit and community organizations.
During the last twelve months we responded to this growth by reviewing, revising and growing all our “best practices” and operational infrastructure from strategic planning and financial management to facilities and staffing. This is a process we continue today.
Our new vision, mission and strategic plan reaffirm our support of member artists and the community. artEAST is truly a volunteer-powered, passionate and inclusive grassroots organization with a bias for action, collaboration and involvement.
As a young startup organization, the artEAST has many pressing needs. As we work hard to build our infrastructure, business practices and leadership to meet the exploding demand, we are also focused on important “brick and mortar” priorities. Upgrading and expanding our classrooms and teaching capability are a particular emphasis. Our old building is in need of insulation, lighting, art storage equipment, tables, chairs and other classroom essentials. We are building our supply of art making and teaching equipment from scratch and thus very slowing adding easels, drawing boards, painting, printmaking and ceramic supplies as budget allows. These much-needed art supplies allow us support community classes and workshops at the artEAST Art Center as well as take art programs outside the classroom to satellite locations and partnership programs in the surrounding communities. We place special priority on acquiring the auxiliary space, tools and equipment to support printmaking and ceramics programs. artEAST is fortunate to have a professional fine-art printing press as well as a kiln. We have experienced demand for these programs and wish to find appropriate space and purchase essential equipment and supplies to offer expanded printmaking and ceramic workshops and community art-making programs.