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Creative Campus
Our History
Our Roots

Creative Campus originated through the merger of the A&BC and Fort Point Cultural Coalition (FPCC) in 2015. The A&BC embraced the FPCC’s mission to develop and preserve affordable artist and maker spaces. In response to a region-wide crisis, what started in Fort Point is now expanding to Greater Boston and beyond.

Midway Artist Studios

In 2005, FPCC partnered with Bob Kuehn to convert three empty buildings in Fort Point into Midway Artist Studios, one of Boston’s most significant affordable work-live buildings for artists. This conversion preserved one of only three remaining buildings in Fort Point that are exclusive to the arts. The neighborhood is an example of the impacts of gentrification on an arts community where once nearly 700 working artists occupied 600,000 sq. ft of studio space.

Unfortunately, Bob Kuehn passed away a few years after the building was opened. In 2014, the tenants organized to purchase the building from the Kuehn estate, making it a permanent rental artist-controlled building consisting of 89 spaces, a gallery, and Midway Lab for performance, and administrative office spaces for Boston arts organizations.

First Acquisition

Creative Campus’s pilot project began in 2017 by purchasing a 33,000 sq. ft. former Boy’s & Girl’s Club in Worcester, Massachusetts that had been vacant for more than 20 years. A&BC partnered with Creative Hub Worcester (CHW), a newly formed organization whose mission is to provide equitable arts programs in accessible spaces.

From the initial purchase through six years of direct financial support, pro-bono services, development services, fundraising, and staff and board support, the A&BC and outside consultants were able to secure critical pre-development resources, including state and federal historic tax credits. A&BC sold the building to CHW and, at the time of the sale, transferred more than $5M worth of equity with the building. This success enabled CHW to purchase the building from A&BC at below market rate and helped provide the time and resources needed to maintain the momentum for CHW to complete the development process.

Milestone Formalization

Western Avenue Studios + Lofts was founded in 2002 by commercial developer Karl Frey. Located on the Pawtucket Canal, Western Avenue is a five-building complex encompassing 265,000 sq. ft. of converted mill space where industrial fabrics were once manufactured.

The renovated buildings serve more than 370 artists in 250 studios and 50 live/work spaces. In 2022, A&BC purchased the building for $20M with the support of Karl Frey. This partnership between an existing building owner and the A&BC provides a strong case study of the potential of the Creative Campus program. Western Avenue is currently operating at 100% capacity with a waiting list and serves as a model project for the Creative Campus.

Photo credit: Henry Marte

Creative Campus — Present and Future

We are building on the historical experience of 20+ years of capacity planning and addressing community and social impact elements. We currently have multiple potential properties under review and in our project pipeline. Creative Campus is assembling a proven team of financing partners and establishing a methodology for acquiring properties. With each property, we are building the internal capacity to manage these properties with an artist-centered approach, including adding  professional development programs, fiscal sponsorship programs, and emergency relief funding.

 

 

In the Media

Worcester Business Journal | February 12, 2021

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