What would a thriving Midtown district look like, if we collectively invested in the artistic talent, distinct expressions, and creativity of our own community?

The Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) is one of the few organizations still in operation on the Midtown Site, formerly known as the College of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. SFAI is located in a 17,000 square foot building that is part of the colorful Visual Arts Center, designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and completed in 1999.

The Midtown Site, in the geographic center of Santa Fe, has the potential to positively redefine St. Michael’s Drive and what equitable development in Santa Fe can be. Because SFAI’s future is entwined with the future of the Midtown Site, over the last year we have taken an active role in helping to determine an equitable outcome for its redevelopment.

Read more below about our vision and initiatives related to the Midtown Site!

Our Vision

We imagine, instead of a cloistered campus that is fenced along its entire perimeter, a thriving Midtown district with homes, small businesses, parks, grocery stores, restaurants, healthcare, social services, educational institutions, and arts and culture organizations all connected through green and walkable infrastructure. We imagine the Midtown Site as a bridge – connecting Santa Fe’s north and south sides, connecting urban, rural and tribal New Mexico, and connecting New Mexico with the world.

We are excited for the potential of better connected neighborhoods with excellent urban design and pedestrian zones, and for new financial capital in Midtown that is grounded by bold, community-based, anti-displacement policies. We imagine the Midtown Site as a vibrant arts, culture, and creative hub that is connected to enterprise, industry, and social services, and which can completely redefine how we as a community invest in local artists and regional Indigenous and Hispanic/ Chicano/ Latinx cultures and communities.

Midtown Arts Alliance

An emerging collaboration of nine award-winning local and regional art, design, workforce development, and educational institutions, the Midtown Arts Alliance envisions Midtown Santa Fe as the heart of a vibrant arts ecosystem that moves beyond the gallery to support emerging media and art forms alongside traditional arts and culture.

We envision the Midtown Site as a model for revitalization based in artistic and design excellence and collaboration, with a collective mission to improve the lives of Santa Feans and Northern New Mexicans through art, design, education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship.

This is an exciting time for the arts in Santa Fe! Artists are breaking boundaries between art and activism, between traditional and contemporary, between conceptual and commercial practice, and between disciplines – and are exploring thrilling new genres using technology, performance art, social practice, and mixed-media.

All of this needs to be supported locally, in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors, if Santa Fe is to remain an international arts center into the 21st century – and the Midtown Site is the perfect opportunity to bridge these many exciting disciplines and genres.

Partners in the Midtown Arts Alliance (MAA) include the Santa Fe Art Institute, MASS Design Group, YouthWorks, Make Santa Fe, Littleglobe, CENTER, Black Rock Editions, the University of New Mexico School of Architecture + Planning and College of Fine Arts, and Creative Santa Fe. All of these organizations already provide excellent art, design, workforce development, and educational public programming to the Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico community. We believe that, through a shared vision and stronger collaboration, we can deepen our collective positive impact in the community.

SFAI and the Midtown Arts Alliance submitted a proposal to the City on October 31, for use of the Visual Arts Center buildings to help accomplish our vision for the 21st Century! We view this as a unique and unprecedented opportunity for a strong consortium of award-winning, established, and respected local and regional institutions to demonstrate the impact that art, creativity and higher education can have to accomplish the City’s goals for Santa Fe and the Midtown Campus. We will provide more information as the RFEI process unfolds.

NEA Our Town Grant

Cultural Asset Mapping
Thanks to a NEA Our Town grant, SFAI and Midtown Arts Alliance partners will work with Estevan Rael-Gálvez to continue the Cultural Connects project. We will engage local residents to map local cultural assets, in particular near Midtown, in order to better identify how investment in local artists and regional Indigenous and Hispanic/ Chicano/ Latinx cultures and communities can help to connecting regional arts, culture, and creative sectors with economic and leadership opportunities that do not rely primarily on the tourist market.

Midtown Studio
We are also working with the UNM School of Architecture + Planning (SA+AP) and UNM College of Fine Arts (CFA) to host a collaborative architecture and art studio, Midtown Santa Fe Studio, in the spring of 2020. The Santa Fe Midtown Studio will investigate creative placemaking/ placekeeping, urban planning and design, and social art practice in the context of the Midtown Site. Classes will primarily be at SFAI and will include lectures, community meetups, and workshops with artists in residence, local artists, City staff, interested developers, and community partners.

Community members are encouraged to apply! If you are a designer, maker, artist, creative practitioner, and are interested in learning about creative placemaking and want to positively impact the future of the Midtown Site, email us at info@sfai.org!

Community Fair
Projects that arise from the cultural asset mapping work and the Midtown Studio will be showcased in a community fair during Summer 2020. Stay posted for how you can get involved in this fun and interactive event that will activate the Midtown Site!

Loeb Fellows

Because Executive Director Jamie Blosser was a 2015 Harvard Loeb Fellow, SFAI was able to apply for and receive a Loeb Alumni grant in 2018. Grant funding paid for travel to bring Loeb Fellows from around the country with expertise in development, planning, and real estate finance to Santa Fe in Summer 2018. Fellows toured the Midtown Site and learned about its history, met City Councilors and Mayor Webber, and after two days, presented their recommendations and strategies regarding governance, planning, implementation, and site activation.

Participating Loeb Fellows included Daniel Hernandez, Deborah Friedan, Jair Lynch, and Marc Norman.

City of Santa Fe Planning Guidelines

SFAI partnered with the City of Santa Fe in the spring of 2018 to help steward preliminary architectural visions for the Midtown Site. Five architect, landscape architect, and planning teams were selected to envision the future uses, density, and character of the property. Their ideas were presented to the public at town halls and helped the City to prepare preliminary planning guidelines for the future use of the property.

Participating design teams included AOS Architects, Autotroph, Michelle Negrette and Christie Green, Spears Horn Architects, and Surroundings Inc. View excerpts from their visions here.

Learn more about the City’s planning guidelines and process here.

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