After a year of hosting events, bringing bands to Sarasota and serving as a community space, the Nothing Arts Center is officially closing down – as it currently exists. The organization announced on April 23 that Nothing Arts Center would not be renewing its lease upon its expiration on June 1.
“We will not be having any more official events,” second-year and Nothing Arts Center organizer Ava Howard said, but that doesn’t mean the organization is closing. “During the summer, we’ll be hosting events as a collective at different community spaces. Nothing Arts this summer will be a collective, working towards a Florida not-for-profit status, and then in the Fall we are going to look for a new physical and intentional space.”
Nothing Arts Center has been, since its inception, a volunteer-based organization, aimed at serving as a radical space for members of the New College community and the greater Sarasota community to provide an inclusive venue for events, music, and community-building. Started by New College alums gelly (‘10), Dylan Burchett, and Kamron Scruggs in a keenly-priced warehouse near campus, Nothing Arts Center was created as“a spearhead collective focused on organizing a radical arts and media center,” according to nothingartscenter.org.
“Many of our members are moving away, that’s one of the reasons why we have decided to change the nature of our organization,” Howard said. “We are working towards non-profit status, and are going to continue with our same mission and goals, just in transient community spaces.” Howard has been volunteering at Nothing Arts Center alongside New College alums gelly, Nolan Ruark, James Carillo, Jessica Wopinski and Julie Ohanian, as well as third-years Sophia Schultz and Christina Harn, and thesis student Hedda Cooper.
Nothing Arts Center has struggled since its inception with financing the center. Despite a cost of $650 a month for rent, along with utilities, the organization has focused on making the center accessible, which often meant being lax about cover charges and ticket prices.
Although the organization is leaving the warehouse they have been residing in, Howard and the Nothing Arts members are uninhibited. “We will work with other groups and members of Sarasota and surrounding areas to host workshops, speak-outs, shows, presentations, and so on in their spaces and apply the safe(r) space norms and Nothing’s mission there,” Howard said. “It’s going to be different for us, hosting with other people, and we’re hoping to reach more audiences and gain broader involvement, both organizers and volunteers. So this summer, the remaining members are going to adjust and reorganize our organizational style as well so that we can do this.”
The safe(r) space norm Howard references is a key part of Nothing Arts Center’s mission. The website states, “as part of our commitment to inclusivity, Nothing strives to provide a safe(r) space for those of marginalized identities. We aim to fight discrimination, stigma, and oppression on a community scale. Safe(r) spaces provide learning opportunities for the wider community: tolerance, respect, understanding, and empathy. You may get called out, but organizers will call you in. If you ever feel unsafe at one of our events, reach out to an organizer and a vibe-liaison will work with you to resolve the issue.”
Nothing Arts Center plans on returning to a single venue in the fall, just in time for a new cohort of New College students to be introduced to a uniquely New College space.