SPACES provides a venue for emerging artists as Cleveland's principal alternative art gallery. Launched by visual and performance artists who shared a sense of exclusion from commercial galleries and museums, it opened in June 1978 in the Stouffer's Bldg. on PLAYHOUSE SQUARE. Originally it simply divided its quarters into areas designated as "a-space" for visual art and "p-space" for performance art; the present name of SPACES was assumed in Aug. 1979. It has sponsored regular exhibitions of artists invited by the board to install works of their own choosing. Robert Mihaly, one of 5 original board members, became the gallery's first paid director in 1980; he was followed by Jane Farver in 1981 and Susan Channing in 1986.

Rising rents due to gentrification have twice prompted the gallery's move to new locations. In 1983 it moved into the Bradley Bldg. in the WAREHOUSE DISTRICT. With the aid of grants from the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, the GEORGE GUND FOUNDATION, BP AMERICA, and the National Endowment for the Arts, SPACES in 1990 was able to purchase its own building. Occupying the first floor of the former Van Cleve Glass Bldg. on the SUPERIOR VIADUCT, the gallery rents the remainder of the building to generate income. In 1995 it numbered 300 members, of which 180 were artists, and operated on an annual budget of $210,000. Local artists who have shown there include Don Harvey and Ken Nevadomi.

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