Galapagos Art Space

Born in Brooklyn. Raised in Detroit.

A New Model For Funding The Arts:

This project seeks to reposition and stabilize the cultural business model by linking its success to the increased real estate values that the presence of artists and cultural organizations catalyzes over and over again.

Put another way: The arts are already in the real estate business - they just aren’t being rewarded for it.

The business model used by the arts – a near total reliance on philanthropy and government to fund infrastructure and operations – is unsustainable and leads time and again to chronic under-performance and instability in the sector.

Yet there really shouldn't be a shortage of equity to support the arts; more often than not they're responsible for the tremendous growth in the real estate values and the resulting civic tax bases that surround them.

In Detroit, we want to prove a new model for funding the arts. By making founding partners out of the cultural organizations creating change and the local governments working to grow their creative-based economies - and the essential foundation community - we believe we can do that.

When we first began looking at Detroit and Highland Park two and a half years ago, the challenge for us was to find a meaningful density of real estate that can be protected over time, ensuring that the artists benefit from the value they create by their presence and activity, and that they aren’t simply priced out of the real estate because of their own efforts.  


We operate - and we always have - on 100% earned income. We make every dollar we spend. Galapagos does not accept government grants or public funding of any kind to operate our venue. Instead, we believe that if the work we present is strong, communicative, and effective, that audiences will support us.

Since opening in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1995 - and despite a few bumps along the way - we’ve proved that a cultural venue operating an independent, evolved business model geared toward supporting the performing arts can flourish. 

Government and Foundation support:

The vital role government and foundation support plays in creating venues of opportunity in the arts is clear. The reasons why they do it are also clear; we build cities and communities by working together and governments and foundations are uniquely tasked with doing this work. 

Galapagos believes that once an audience-based venue is up and running that it has a responsibility to operate a stable, effective business model strong enough to operate independently. Not only is this good for the venue, it lets the foundation and government communities move forward and refocus their energy and limited means on other worthy projects.  

As leaders in the cultural community we can’t be placeholders, bystanders in the midst of what others before us have built. We have to lead.

Moving the arts and culture away from the tin-cup mentality that has defined them for so long is an important focus for us as we begin our work in Detroit and Highland Park.

Artists deserve independence and stability. We want to help build that. 





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