Courtesy of Jessica Smolinski

Last week, Artspace New Haven was named a recipient of the “2020 VIA | Wagner Incubator Grant Fund” awarded by VIA Art Fund and the Wagner Foundation and will receive $40,000 in grant money.

Artspace is a contemporary non profit art organization in New Haven which supports emerging artists and engages community members. The grant it received comes from VIA Art Fund and Wagner Foundation, two nonprofit organizations that support creativity and art in communities nationwide. Their jointly awarded incubator grant funds nonprofit arts organizations that champion artistic production, thought leadership and public engagement.

“We were impressed by the legacy of vibrant, community oriented arts programming and inspired by the arrival of Lisa Dent as the new executive director,” said Katherine Rochester, associate director of curatorial research at VIA Art Fund. “It felt like an opportune time to support Lisa’s vision for creating a dedicated platform for the presentation of rigorous, boundary-pushing contemporary art in New Haven.”

Artspace’s main areas of focus include featuring New Haven artists, offering youth art programs and hosting workshops and other events. Its yearlong artist-in-residence program invites artists to use Artspace’s studio space to work on projects. This year, Artspace also co-produced a podcast about the New Haven Black Panther trials.

Dent received news about the grant right as Artspace was finalizing its plans for spring exhibitions. She said she believes Artspace is a good candidate for this grant due to its role as a “national leader” in presenting contemporary art to the public.

“The grant will allow us to not only keep our doors open to the public, but the ability to pivot more intentionally to online programming so we can keep our community healthy and safe,” Lisa Dent, Artspace’s executive director, said.

The Wagner Foundation is a nonprofit that offers grants to organizations that creatively improve their communities, while VIA Art Fund awards grants to contemporary artists and art institutions. In 2019, VIA Art Fund and Wagner Foundation partnered to establish the incubator grant fund. According to the nonprofits’ press release, this fund aims to build a “robust and inclusive national arts ecosystem” through funding awards for small nonprofit visual arts organizations across the country. The five grants total $200,000, which means that each organization receives $40,000.

Through this fund, the two organizations hope to promote the creation of contemporary art and create meaningful experiences for a diverse audience.

“[Dent’s] resolve to make New Haven — a town widely recognized for its premier MFA program — a place where emerging artists might dream of staying and having their first solo show demonstrates precisely the ambition to connect the local to the global that we were hoping to affirm with the Incubator grant,” Rochester said.

Besides Artspace, incubator grants were awarded to Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland, Oregon; The Lab in San Francisco, California; Locust Projects in Miami, Florida; and The Luminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

Marisol Carty |

Marisol Carty was Arts Editor from 2021-2022 and previously covered Music. She double majors in Economics and Philosophy.