The Gadsden Arts Center was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 1994 to provide exhibitions of fine art and art education to the people of Gadsden County, which is diverse, culturally underserved, and economically challenged. Gadsden Arts is the outgrowth of a community volunteer effort that began in 1989 when a local artist and her husband developed Art in Gadsden: a juried exhibition of fine art.
The Quincy Main Street Program managed Art In Gadsden through 1993. In 1994, the volunteers created a non-profit corporation, Gadsden Arts, Inc. After obtaining non-profit IRS 501(c)3 status, the group found and purchased an historic building (c. 1904) with individual gifts and a state historic preservation grant. The building provided a permanent base for operations, but offered only 800 square feet of public space for exhibitions, meetings and events.
In 1996, business owner, community leader, and philanthropist Mark Bates offered the Bell and Bates building to Gadsden Arts, to be transformed into a permanent arts center, with a prominent location on Quincy’s historic courthouse square. The building, a landmark since its construction in 1910, had been a community center as a family hardware business for 86 years.
In 1997, the all-volunteer organization hired its first paid staff and hired Zoe Golloway as Founding Executive Director. Golloway was an active volunteer for the organization, and its first board President, as well as having many years experience in managing non-profit organizations. That year, Gadsden Arts funded operations and acquired close to $800,000 toward renovating the Bell and Bates building. With staff support, the Strategic Planning Committee began planning to take the arts center into the 21st century. Committee members drove 1,000 miles to visit museums in North Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, created and distributed a community survey that brought back a wealth of information about the types of exhibits and educational activities desired, and created the vision, mission and values statements, and organizational goals that now guide Gadsden Arts, Inc.
After an initial $1.5 million goal was established and one historic building transformation being planned, the Gadsden Arts board seized an opportunity to buy a one-story connecting building to house support services for the art center, including a gift shop, offices, vault for the Permanent Collection, storage and receiving areas. This added $175,000 to the total campaign goal. Individual and corporate contributions, plus state funding of $125,000 supported a Capital Campaign that amassed $1.4 million in cash and stock donations and pledges. Construction began in August of 1999; renovation came in on budget and on time. The building opened to the public on September 17, 2000, moving Gadsden Arts from 1700 to 15,000 square feet.
In 2007, with gifts from generous private donors, the Gadsden Arts Center acquired the Fletcher Building, a 2,000 sq. ft. space at 9 N. Madison Street, adjacent to the Arts Center Gift Shop. The space required comprehensive renovation. A combination of CRA grants and private donations funded the renovation of the building, which opened to the public on January 16, 2009, and houses the GAC Artists Guild Gallery. The Gadsden Arts Center realized a 19% increase in membership and 71% increase in participation contacts in 2010, with a growing regional reputation for quality exhibitions, beautiful, professional quality gallery spaces, and a broad range of quality programs and events for all ages and backgrounds.
By 2011, the Gadsden Arts Center Permanent Collection had grown from 11 works of art to 51, including Vernacular art collection that traveled to the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina that summer. The Center was also awarded a grant from the State of Florida to develop exciting programming for the exhibition, Dean Mitchell: Rich in Spirit
, including a full-color catalog, audio tour in English and Spanish, gallery talks, and radio and TV advertising.
Download the 2012 Gadsden Arts Center Annual Report!