Mural by Thomas Evans AKA "Detour" at RedLine Contemporary Art Center

Located in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, RedLine Contemporary Art Center fosters education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change. Founded in 2008, RedLine was created to support emerging artists, and provide creative opportunities for local residents. RedLine serves as an incubator for a thriving group of resident artists, through an in-depth, two-year residency program that includes free studio space, community engagement opportunities and professional development. The organization also offers a range of programming that responds to the needs of the varied communities that live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Viewing art and arts education through a lens of social issues, the organization ensures equitable access to the arts for under-resourced populations by working to fulfill a vision of empowering everyone to create social change through art.

When arts organizations started canceling live events in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, workers in the creative community who’d suddenly lost gigs started panicking about paying the rent and buying groceries. So RedLine quickly pivoted from hosting exhibitions, public talks and in-person community outreach to figuring out how to support artists through the crisis.

RedLine quickly administered a survey to the numerous artists in their network. That feedback helped to launch the Colorado Artist Relief fund in partnership with the City of Denver’s IMAGINE 2020 Artist Assistance Fund, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Colorado Creative Industries. That relief fund further inspired the launch of the Colorado Music Relief Fund. RedLine serves as the main administrator for both of those funds, providing vital support for musicians, performers, artists and gig workers who experienced a sudden and drastic loss of income as a result of the pandemic.

In spring 2020, RedLine also launched the Makers for Masks project. The project was created out of the need to provide Denver’s homeless communities and shelters with masks, while giving artists income during this time. This collaboration grew from three textile artists to 15 artists getting a weekly paycheck to create about 100 masks a week. By the end of the project, RedLine distributed 300 masks a week to various shelters in the area. Furthermore, the project partnered with RTD to provide about 300 masks to frontline transit workers.  This project was a way to address both the public health crisis and the economic crisis for artists in a mutually supportive way.

In their continued efforts to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, the Anti-Racist Club and Black Lives Matter 5280 partnered with the RedLine Contemporary Art Center to create “Re-Imagining Safety: An Art Installation and Gathering.” This installation was a living piece of artwork that grew as protesters visited the site. It existed on a fence surrounding the City and County Building of Denver. This installation was in response to The Department of Public Safety & City Councils’ calls for community input surrounding the future of policing and safety in Denver, in response to the Black Lives Matters protests. RedLine also hosted a Maker’s Day event called Posters for Protesters to support this project. This was a free public event that followed the recommended guidelines for social distancing. Artists were encouraged to create or drop off their protest posters off for the art installation at the City and County Building. This collaborative event included the creation of a new mural on RedLine’s east wall by Thomas “Detour” Evans.

RedLine Contemporary Art Center continues to be responsive to their community’s needs through their signature REACH Studio for people experiencing homelessness, ArtCorps mentoring program in schools, Arts in Society grant administration for statewide cross-sector projects, and ongoing exhibitions and educational offerings. RedLine is dedicated to making positive social change through artist-driven solutions.

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