One of the questions I get at Geek Dinners is to explain what AS220 is all about. Here’s a little background on AS220, how it crisscrosses with Providence Geeks, and how you can help AS220 grow (disclaimer: I’m the secretary of AS220′s board). AS220 is a non-profit arts center, founded in 1985, that provides an uncensored and unjuried venue for Rhode Island artists: gallery space, performance space, live/work space, and more. AS220 owns two buildings in downtown Providence: AS220 (the Empire Street building where we meet) and the AS220 Dreyfus Hotel. AS220 also runs the Broad Street Studio, a transitional arts program for youth who have been in foster homes, group homes, or the state’s juvenile detention facility.
AS220 has always been a little bit geeky. Its web site, as220.org, has grown into a server hosting not only AS220, but local area artists and arts organizations. For years,there was a public access Linux terminal in AS220 (unfortunately gone due to space constraints). Currently, an electronics lab is being developed on the second floor, and the plan is to use that as a workshop not only for the Broad Street Studio youth, but for the public and for groups like Providence Geeks and DC401. Additionally, AS220, Providence Geeks, and the Steel Yard had a summit on fabrication technology (3d printing, laser cutters, etc.) some time back, and one goal is to provide access to this technology using a model similar to AS220′s darkroom. (For more on the fabrication topic, be sure to check out the upcoming RI-Nexus event on next-generation working environments and fab labs).
Now, here’s how you can help. AS220 recently revamped its membership program. Instead of the original tiered membership, there’s a flat yearly membership contribution of $50 (note that you don’t have to be a member to visit, exhibit at, or enjoy AS220–it is open to all). To get into NPR mode here for a moment, you get some cool stuff (pictured above) with that: a limited edition print, a bumper sticker, a subscription to the monthly calendar/newsletter, and a member card offering discounts or special offers at local merchants, including the AS220 galleries, the RISD Store, Jerry’s Artarama, Abar, Eastern Art and Frame, Adler’s Hardware, Picture This, Perishable Theatre, Books on the Square, and Myopic Books. And like any good geek, AS220 lets you join online.