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All Artists are alike. They dream of doing something that’s more social, more collaborative, and more real than art.
The Bridge is a small-scale non-profit arts organization located in historic downtown Charlottesville. We strive to be a catalyst for positive change in our community, providing space and resources to working artists while building community through the power of collaboration and direct engagement in the creative process.
But don’t take our word for it.
Arts practice in America is changing dramatically. Artists are increasingly concerned with how they might play a constructive and reparative role in their communities, rather than making objects to be admired and purchased. The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative is at the vanguard of this movement, nurturing emerging artists as they experiment with new roles as meaning-makers, problem-solvers, and community-builders. At a moment when America is fraught with derision and discord, artists having spaces to re-imagine how they might constructively bridge engagement across stubborn and tired boundaries is paramount and worthy of support.
—Tyler Denmead | Founding Director | New Urban Arts
Greg Kelly goes where others fear to tread. I don’t necessarily mean that literally, but come to think of it, that applies too. Lots of organizations talk about doing “community outreach” and pat themselves on the back for token efforts to engage the broader public. Greg and the Bridge don’t settle for tokenism. He does the hard work of building meaningful relationships with residents of our community—young and old alike—who are usually overlooked, especially when it comes to involvement in the arts. My compliments to him, and to the Bridge, for going the extra mile to get it right.
—Dave Norris | Former Mayor and Current City Council Member, City of Charlottesville
The Bridge PAI is one of those special organizations that really understands that fundamental change is obtained by creating lasting relationships.
—Holly Hatcher | Former Director of Programs, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation
The Bridge is one of the most inspiring community-based arts organizations in the country. I have watched Greg, Zack and the team develop The Bridge from a vision into an anchor C-Ville institution with admiration and a little bit of awe.
—Billy Upski Wimsatt | Author, activist, social entrepreneur
If John Cage had lived in Charlottesville, he would have played at the Bridge. If Emma Goldman had lived in Charlottesville, she would have organized activists at the Bridge. If Allen Ginsburg had lived in Charlottesville, he would have howled at the Bridge. If Keith Haring had lived in Charlottesville, he would have graffitied the walls of the Bridge. The Bridge is Charlottesville’s wedding chapel where experimental, no bull-shit art marries innovative community-building.
—Cathy Harding | Former Editor, C-VILLE Weekly
Its name says it all: The Bridge PAI (Progressive Arts Initiative). Through its efforts, the Bridge allows members of our community to cross divides enabling them to explore ideas and participate in programs that they otherwise could not. The Storyline Project is a perfect example, providing middle school students—whose educational experience to date has been largely dominated by generic standards of learning—the opportunity to learn the history of their own neighborhood and share what they learned through artistic expression.
—Josh Wheeler | Director, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
The Bridge and those who work with it embody the spirit of our arts community – creativity, warmth, humility, resourcefulness, play and dedication to others. It’s a joy to see in action.
—Maggie Guggenheimer | Former Executive Director, Piedmont Council of the Arts
The Bridge is the best place on earth to eat a donut made of potato.
The Bridge is the best place on earth to do a poetry reading while a pile of garbage moves around of its own accord.
The Bridge is the best place on earth to not listen to a very mediocre Lucinda Williams concert.
The Bridge is the best place on earth to think about the back of Thomas Jefferson’s head.
The Bridge is the best place on earth to wipe the Monticello melon off your White’s Boots.
The Bridge is the best place on earth to wait for the world to catch up to the Bridge.
—Tim Davis | Photographer & poet
We cannot know in advance even the vaguest contours that the arts may assume in the community. Charlottesville is a rich and diverse confluence of ideas and has many untapped sources of creativity. It is therefore essential to our mission that we be alert to what is significant, novel, and audacious and assist in giving it life. The Bridge does not conceive–it acts as a midwife.”
- Steven Dalton Kelly