The Empire Street Complex
In 1992, AS220 embarked on an effort to own our own home in downtown Providence. We acquired a 21,000 square foot, three floor building on Empire Street that was severely blighted and almost totally abandoned. By the following year we achieved code compliance and 100% occupancy, with Groundwerx Dance Company, Perishable Theatre and a number of resident artists helped to fill every room. This was accomplished with a very limited budget of $1.2 million dollars, tremendous community support, highly imaginative fund-raising, and most significantly, tons of sweat equity. What was once an almost lifeless block in downtown Providence is today a thriving mixed-use arts complex and a destination an estimated 50,000 people each year. This project was one of the first significant steps in the creation of the Providence Arts and Entertainment District.
Between 2003 and September of 2006, two million additional dollars were raised for the first phase of The Capital Campaign for AS220, which funding major improvements to the Empire Street complex including: restoration of the facade, expansion of the AS220 performance space and street level gallery, upgrades to the street level HVAC and electrical systems, sound and lighting improvements and the creation of a complimentary venue dedicated to food and beverage, AS220’s bar and restaurant.
Today, Empire Street provides a home to AS220’s Performance Space, 95 Empire, The Bar @ AS220, AS220 Foo(d), AS220 Youth, the Paul Krot B&W Community Darkroom, 3 of our 4 Gallery spaces, and twenty live/work studios for artists. Empire Street is also called home by some tenants and partners: Roberto’s Barber Shop and Muldowney’s Pub. The non-profit College Visions, inhabited Empire Street from its founding until November 2010 when it relocated to the Mercantile. The AS220 Labs called Empire Street home until relocating to an expanded two level space in the Mercantile in December 2010.