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Springboard for the Arts announces purchase of property at 262 University Avenue West in Saint Paul

-Former Saxon Ford Showroom will act as flexible community, event, market and workshop space
-Saint Paul, F.R. Bigelow, and Mardag Foundations together commit $500,000 to launch the capital campaign
-Community open house on Saturday, June 23rd

Springboard for the Arts is delighted to announce that it has purchased the building and lot at 262 University Avenue West in Saint Paul.

The space will be used for community events, expanded programming, and new market opportunities during the planning and pre-development phases, before permanent renovations and improvements are made. An Open House event for community members to see the space and connect to opportunities for programming will be held on Saturday, June 23, 10AM-2PM. All are welcome.

“For over 27 years, Springboard for the Arts has supported our vibrant community, while shaping a national conversation about cultural policy,” says St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “I am excited about the creative development of this new space, which will allow them to further provide dynamic community engagement and innovative arts programming.”

“We are excited to make this move because of the opportunity to increase access to Springboard’s growing resources, to hold space for neighborhood activity and community development and to find new ways to support artists making a living and a life,” says Laura Zabel, Springboard’s executive director. “This opportunity is only possible because of the vital creative work and partnership of artists, neighbors and community organizations in Little Mekong, Frogtown, and Rondo and many others across the city and region.”

In partnership with the Asian Economic Development Association, Springboard for the Arts new site will be a host for the popular Little Mekong Night Market on August 4-5, September 1-2, and October 6-7, 2018. Learn more about Little Mekong:

Lowertown-based architecture firm 4RM+ULA has been selected as the architect for the project. As part of plans to activate the space during pre-development, a Call for Artists to produce art for the windows during the early phases is currently open and available here:

“Springboard has had its offices in the Northern Warehouse Building in Lowertown for almost 27 years, and we have grown and evolved immensely in that time,” adds Zabel, “We are grateful to our Lowertown friends and neighbors, and as we plan our future move we will always have a commitment to the neighborhood.”

From Minnesota, Springboard for the Arts has built national models for professional development and resources for artists, as well as artist-led community development and participation models. One such project, the “Irrigate” initiative which ran from 2011-2014 along the Green Line construction zone, was a partnership with the City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiative Support Corporation and six St. Paul district councils, with major support from ArtPlace America. The effort trained more than 650 local artists in creative placemaking and partnership-building skills, funded over 250 creative projects along the corridor, and resulted in 51 million positive media impressions of the neighborhoods along the corridor. The Irrigate “Art Happens Here” neighborhood celebration in 2012 was held on the site of 262 University Avenue West, bringing this work full circle for Springboard for the Arts.

The purchase and pre-development of 262 University Avenue West are the first steps in a larger community design process and funding campaign to support renovations, funding of programming and sustainability, and development of new markets and entrepreneurial opportunities for local artists and makers. The Saint Paul Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, and Mardag Foundation have made founding commitments to this effort with grants totaling $500,000.

“The Saint Paul Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation recognize the enormous value Springboard for the Arts adds to our community through diverse and profound opportunities to engage with art and individual artists,” says Sharon DeMark, program officer with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations. “Springboard’s commitment to community and economic vitality in Saint Paul and neighborhoods like those along University Avenue aligns with that of the Foundations. We are pleased to provide early support for a project that will not only enhance Springboard’s ability to serve the community, but also create space for organizations led by people of color and artists of color.”

For more information, press inquiries, or other questions, please contact Springboard for the Arts associate director Carl Atiya Swanson at or 651-292-3205.

Open House Event
What: Springboard for the Arts Open House & Community Celebration, an opportunity to see the space at 262 University Avenue, with art activities from sPARKit, Streetcorner Letterpress, Really Big Table & Driving to Drum, and refreshments from Spinning Wylde.
Where: 262 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55102
When: Saturday, June 23, 10AM-2PM
How much: Free, all are welcome

Learn more:

Call for artists

About Springboard for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Our work is about building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies, and we believe that artists are an important leverage point in that work. Springboard’s mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life. For more information, please visit