Founded in 1992, Side Street Projects is an artist-run organization that helps visual artists negotiate the baffling terrain of the contemporary art world. Our mission is to give artists of all ages the ability and the means to support their creative endeavors. Simply put: we help artists, and we do so with unusual, yet practical programs that help artists roll up their sleeves and do things themselves.
We are a mid-sized nonprofit with a full-time staff of 3 and an annual budget of approximately $250,000. Last year, almost 1,500 children age 5-11 participated in our renowned Woodworking Bus program. For adult artists, we provide practical support services designed to meet the needs of working artists, directly serving over 400 adult artists each year. Programs range from intensive, hands-on career-survival workshops to an equipment co-op that puts cost-prohibitive tools and digital equipment in the hands of low-income artists.
Our programs encourage creative problem solving, self-reliance, and sustainability. These values are dramatically illustrated by our organization's rather unusual facility, too. Our offices are a pair of restored vintage travel trailers, manufactured by J. Paul Getty's Spartan Aircraft Corporation. Our communication systems are 100% wireless, utilizing cell phones and satellite Internet. The whole operation runs on a 3,600 watt solar energy array which is also on wheels.
We are field-testing these new mobile headquarters on a vacant lot that's slated for development later this year. Until the developers break ground, we will occupy this space and provide programs and services for kids, artists, and members of the community. Our goal is to transform unused space into something positive that blurs the line between public art and public service. When our time's up at our current location, we'll tow the whole organization to another temporary space in the community, set up camp, and start the process all over again... much like an M*A*S*H unit. Being mobile gives us the unique capacity to plug into a variety of transitional and unused spaces throughout the City, ironically achieving stability through mobility.