It all started in June, 2012. The Downey City Council unanimously voted to fund two years of rent for a gallery space to be managed by Downey Art Vibe, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit arts group.
Driven out of passion to provide a creative space for our community, we knew we had a ton of work to do. We received the keys to 11140 Downey Ave., and upon entering, was a dilapidated shell. Mind you, we had $0 and a 5-year lease, in which we would fund the remaining three years of rent, assuming we’d become a sustainable organization.
Fortunately, our vision of providing such a space was shared amongst many. Friends, strangers, and businesses donated their time, services, and effort to build a multi-use creative space. Stay Gallery officially opened its doors to the public on October 11th, 2012. That night, we exhibited the artwork of 12 local artists, who had never shown within city limits. In a span of just two nights, over 1,200 people visited Stay Gallery.
We spent our entire first year focusing on the design and completion of the space itself, collaborating with local businesses, organizations, and designers to create a beautiful "gem" for our downtown. We raised over $150,000 purely in donations of services, labor, and materials for the buildout. Everyone involved not only donated their work, but contributed to an overall community effort that had never been seen in the City of Downey.
It is now August of 2014, and what we’ve accomplished since our grand opening exceeds anything we ever dreamt of. We have hosted over 36 artist exhibitions - that's about 1.5 on average, per month. We partnered with Downey Unified School District to host student art exhibits, field trips, and festivals for over 2,500 students and teachers. We’ve allowed local community organizations and people with creative ideas to use the space as their canvas, completely rent free.
But none of this has come without our fair amount of mistakes. This entire project has been a positive and creative journey that we have never experienced before - it’s our first time doing this, and we are learning as we go.
As an organization, we are not yet sustainable. Pursuing extended funding from the City of Downey was necessary in order to ensure longevity for Stay Gallery. Extended funding strengthens our future fundraising efforts because we can allocate funds specifically for the programs we offer, and not to fund the cost of rent. It allows local community organizations to continue using the space rent free, and provides a “cultural hub” for all community members to visit, experience, and enjoy. It allows us to become competitive for a wide range of art-based grants that require at least 3 to 5 years of organizational operations. Most importantly, it supports the only visual arts institution in the City of Downey.
Stay Gallery is more than just an art gallery.
Stay Gallery is a 501(c)3 nonprofit offering a creative space for creative people. We host a variety of monthly art exhibits, and provide programs that benefit our community.
Our mission to revitalize and engage our community through the arts helps us create a vibrant 'sense of place' where people can live, work, and play.
We strengthen our ties with our community by allowing creative concepts to flourish within our space. By constantly fundraising and seeking donations, our lights are kept on, and local creativity has a place to call home.
Read the article by The Downey Patriot officially announcing our Extended Funding: