Exciting Changes are Happening at Open Space!

501c3 Formation and a Shift in Leadership

19 April 2022 – Open Space for Arts & Community embarks on exciting changes this summer as we continue to grow and evolve. In May, Open Space will become a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Open Space for Arts & Community was founded in 2008 by islanders Janet McAlpin and David Godsey, who envisioned the 25,000-square-foot former coffee factory as a central hub for celebrating the unbreakable bond between art and community. The decision to become a nonprofit follows years of hard work establishing Open Space as the largest, most flexible venue on Vashon.

Today, Open Space brings dreams to life through aerial and acrobatic arts and education for youth and adults, by hosting and co-producing events and fundraisers with local organizations, by directly serving local youth with events and classes in ORBIT, as a hub for innovative performances ranging from Open Air Aerial Festival to concerts and theater, with initiatives like the AiR artist residency program and !Attention! Artists at Work paying artists to create public art, and partnering with organizations ranging from UMO School of Physical Arts to The Tool Library to the Medical Reserve Corps and Journeymen who serve our community with support from Open Space. 

“The pandemic provided a unique opportunity to do all of the ‘behind the scenes’ work to become a non-profit. We are so excited to share this milestone with our Vashon community! ” says Co-Founder Janet McAlpin. “Open Space has always emphasized service to our community. We have always had a culture of saying ‘yes!’ A great pandemic example was when we welcomed the MRC with open arms when they needed a place for COVID testing. Taking this step to become a nonprofit allows us to invite community leaders with a bright flame in their hearts for Open Space onto a newly formed board, to continue bringing ‘Art. Heart. Soul’ to the island. ”

“It’s right there in our mission, ‘to celebrate the unbreakable bond between art and community,’” continues Co-Founder David Godsey. “As we formalize our nonprofit status we’re connecting all the dots – taking into account all we have done as well as our new generative programs like AiR artist residencies and our !Attention! Artists at Work initiative.”

As Open Space shifts to a nonprofit organization, Jiji Saunders will transition from her role of Executive Director to become Program Manager for the !Attention! Artists at Work initiative, which she spearheaded at the start of COVID. 

Open Space Executive Director Jiji Saunders.

“We created !Attention! Artists at Work to address an urgent need. It’s so satisfying to see this initiative thrive and grow into a lasting program to both serve local artists and bring joy to our community with public art,” says Saunders. “We’ve got several projects in the pipeline and more to come. This is exactly where I want to focus my energy.”

Early on, Open Space recognized that the pandemic was financially devastating to independent local artists in all disciplines. In response, the Open Space team created the !Attention! Artists at Work! initiative. Inspired by FDR’s depression era New Deal, !Attention! Artists at Work began as a way  to support artists and provide moments of hope and delight to our community during the pandemic. 

With community support and partnerships with other local organizations like VIVA, UMO Ensemble, and The Maker Space / Tool Library, Open Space has invested more than $50,000 and commissioned over 100 artists to create free public art to date. Artists are paid to participate and all !Attention! Artists at Work! exhibits and performances are free to the public.

 !Attention! Artists at Work! projects include The Mural Project, The Distance Dance Project, The Literary Project, The Tell Your Story Project, and The Tiny Fairy House Project. Saunders will build on the success of these early stage projects, developing  !Attention! Artists at Work! into a continuous, evolving program benefitting working artists and the public.

Led by the Executive Team, Open Space has begun the search for our new Executive Director with the goal of onboarding in June, 2022 or as soon as the right candidate is found. A job description and application process is posted online at OpenSpaceVashon.com. Resumes will be accepted until the position is filled. 

Mission Open Space is where Vashon gathers to celebrate the unbreakable bond between arts and community.
We co-create extraordinary artistic, community-building experiences that enrich and inspire all involved.
Purpose We are an incubator for new ideas. We bring dreams to life. We offer a lively diverse range of arts, and proudly contribute to the success of fundraisers, classes, community meetings and more. We are led by artists, in service to our community.

Art. Heart. Soul. 


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