The Development

/ the

at the tannery arts center

The Tannery Arts Center is a first-in-the-nation art community that provides a sustainable, accessible and vibrant home for the arts in Santa Cruz County, offering visitors a dynamic cultural destination. The Tannery is also home to Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Jewel Theatre Company and the Colligan Theater, the Tannery Lofts, the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center and Tannery Working Studios, which provides 28 separate studio spaces for professional artists to create, display and sell their art.

The Tannery Arts Center was created through a joint effort by the former Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Cruz, Artspace Projects, Inc. and the Tannery Arts Center, Inc. Artspace is a nationally acclaimed nonprofit developer of affordable space for artists and arts organizations, which has successfully developed and managed many artist live/work projects throughout the country. Tannery Arts Center, Inc. (TAC) is a local nonprofit organization governed by a board of directors representing business, the public and the arts. TAC helped guide the direction of the overall project, served as its fundraising arm for the Colligan Theater, and constructed the theater.

After acquiring the property, the City’s Redevelopment Agency leased a portion of it to Artspace for the construction of the Tannery Lofts, which provides 100 units of affordable housing for artists . The Redevelopment Agency also renovated historic buildings to create the Working Studios. This building was master leased to Artspace, which subsequently leased the individual studio space to artists, and continues to manage the property. In addition, the Redevelopment Agency refurbished the historic Kron House, which serves as the offices for the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County.

The state dissolved Redevelopment Agencies in 2011. Since then the City’s Economic Development Department continues to coordinate the project and to work with Artspace, Tannery Arts Center and the artists to continue to develop the property and provide new opportunities for the arts to flourish. For example, the City leased the Tannery’s historic Hide House building to the Tannery Arts Center, Inc., which rehabilitated and expanded the building to become the Colligan Theater.





The concept for the Tannery Arts Center originated with the former Redevelopment Agency of the City of Santa Cruz, which acquired the property in 2003 and partnered with Artspace Projects Inc., and the newly formed Tannery Arts Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization charged with promoting and fundraising for the development of the Center. When the State of California dissolved Redevelopment Agencies in 2011, title to the Tannery Arts Center property was granted to the City of Santa Cruz. The City, through its Economic Development Department, continues to be involved in the ongoing activity and development of the Center. Learn more about economic development successes throughout the City of Santa Cruz.


Finding and retaining affordable live/work space is an age-old problem for artists, painters, sculptors, dancers and others who require an abundance of well-lit space in which to work. Many artists gravitate to old warehouses and other industrial buildings, but their very presence in an industrial neighborhood often acts as a catalyst, setting in motion a process of gentrification that drives rents up and forces the artists out. This is precisely what happened in Minneapolis’ historic Warehouse District in the 1970s and led to the creation of Artspace in 1979. Established to serve as an advocate for artist space needs, Artspace effectively fulfilled that mission for nearly a decade. By the mid-1980s, however, it was clear that the problem required a more proactive approach, and Artspace made the leap from advocate to developer. Since then, the scope of Artspace’s activities has grown dramatically. Artspace is now America’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts. In the last few years, Artspace has further expanded its mission to incorporate the planning and development of performing arts centers, museums, other arts facilities, and entire arts districts throughout the country. By creating these spaces, Artspace supports the continued professional growth of artists and enhances the cultural and economic vitality of the surrounding community.

did you know / fun facts

The military purchased most of Salz leather output during World War II (1942).

Local artists and arts groups contributed $20,000 to Pave the Way, for building the Colligan Theater at the Tannery. Contributors are recognized on bricks that lead to the entrance of the theater.

The Tannery Arts Center is the largest project completed by both partners – the City of Santa Cruz and Artspace, Inc. – in their histories.