Use Artlab

Come on, show us what you got.

Are you a painter, print maker, dancer, performance artist, poet, actor, creative soul that needs a place to show off your stuff? Art Lab Fort Collins is the venue for you. Tell us what you want to do and let’s make it happen.

Art Lab Fort Collins is a hands-on, interactive, experimental cooperative art space.

Art Lab’s cooperative art space is operated by local innovators, artists, performers and volunteers. The cooperative nature of Art Lab Fort Collins gives creative and cultural-industry individuals a platform to showcase their work. We understand the importance of creatives belonging to a network of peers who promote and support their creativity. Art Lab includes creatives and innovators who have never before shown their work in a gallery or performance setting and participants with established creative careers. There is no usage fee for using our cooperative space, but there are plenty of ways to offset the free usage by doing things like volunteering and performing in the space. Art Lab Fort Collins is more concerned with community than commerce.

Our goal is to have visual artists, performing artists and creative souls of all sorts share the space as much as possible. First Fridays are the most popular days (and book up the fastest), but the space is available every day from 9am to 11pm. We’ll supply the space, you bring the creative energy.

Plan ahead—the space books up quickly, but we still have plenty of time to share the space with you.


Terms of Use

First Friday Artists: Art Lab requires a two-week commitment for visual artists who use the very popular First Friday dates. This allows two weekends of demonstration, and time during the week for private receptions or studio work. If you have an idea for a large installation and need more time in the space, we can negotiate an extended show. A typical visual art show participant commits to the following:

Move in Thursday before your scheduled opening date.

Hands-on demonstration and exhibition of your project Friday night from 6 to 9pm and Saturday from 3 to 8pm, the first two weekends of the month. We prefer that you occupy the space both Fridays and Saturdays — this experiment is all about showing the public your creative process.

Can’t commit to two Fridays and Saturdays? Then you can show during the last two weeks of the month. Let’s chat and we’ll see what we can figure out.

Move out end of day Saturday (after 8pm), or anytime the following day.

You may be sharing the space with other visual artists and musicians and/or live performers. The more the merrier, right?

Participate or pay. You can offset the very small usage fees (we have to pay for supplies and stuff somehow) by volunteering your time. We do not take commissions on any sales, but do welcome donations.

Everyone can participate. Art Lab is a great launch pad for creatives to express themselves publicly for the first time. We’ve also hosted established artists, musicians with doctorates (Not Dr. John or Dr. Dre, but docs nonetheless), theatre companies and dance troupes with decades of history.

Art Lab is a SHARED space, and other groups will be using the space during the week when you aren’t there in person.

Art Lab Fort Collins has hosted performance artists, poets, comedians, theatre troupes, dance troupes, improv groups, sound artists, special needs artists and creative workshops of all sorts.

Check out: Our neighbors the Artery, and Cohere Bandwidth. Also visit Higher Ground and the Music District.

Our thin walls, nice happy neighbors (who we want to keep as such) and our 49 person max occupancy all make us less than ideal for live music. With that in mind, we may host musicians on a case-by-case basis—bearing in mind the following.

No fire or open flame (you’d think we would’t need to say this, but…).

49 person max occupancy (that includes performers).

Don’t alter the space in a way that you can’t undo.

We love the Fort Collins music scene. That being said, we’re the first to admit we’re not the best space for most music. When we launched ten years ago, there was a shortage of rehearsal space and we helped fill that niche. Fortunately, there are plenty of places for bands to rehearse and perform now.

For rehearsal, visit Higher Ground and the Music District.

For performance venues, check out: the Music District, Washington’s, Hodi’s Half Note, Surfside 7, the Blind Pig, the Aggie Theatre, Avogadro’s Number, Magic Rat and Chipper’s College Lanes. Additionally, our ever-growing number of breweries in Fort Collins host musicians.

Our thin walls, nice happy neighbors (who we want to keep as such), no-alcohol policy, lack of staff and 49-person max occupancy all make us less than ideal for live music. With that in mind, music may be appropriate to accompany your Art Lab event—bearing in mind the following.

No amplified music before 9pm.

You must supply your own sound system. We have some PA gear, but you probably want to use your own.

What we’re not

We at Art Lab have been running a grand experiment since 2009—so what we are changes dramatically based on who’s using the space. For those interested in using, supporting or generally learning more about Art Lab, it’s important to know what we’re not:

  • We’re not a traditional gallery. We don’t take commission. We don’t curate shows. We do not jury the creatives that use Art Lab. We’ve had internationally acclaimed artist and first-timers—that’s the exciting nature of running an experimental art space. We’ve hosted work we never would have selected if we were a commercial gallery or picking what we liked, and some of them have been wildly successful. We don’t have a certain style, specialty or demographic. We’re not as tidy, supportive or generally on top of things as a traditional gallery is.
  • We’re not for profit. We’re not getting rich off this. We’re doing it for the love of the game and to help assure the community we love continues to support a diverse group of creative spirits. We’re a 501c6, which means you can donate money to us, but it’s not tax-deductible. It does make you feel really good, however. We guarantee it. Our supporters allow us to run a pretty lean outfit: making and spending
  • We’re not promoters. When you get us great images and compelling copy, we’ll do our best to spread the word. We have a solid Facebook following, so we’ll share the love there and on our site. However, we do not have the promotional arm of a traditional gallery or arts venue. You can do your part by sharing on social media, checking in and tagging Art Lab Fort Collins: #artlabfc on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  • We’re not connected. Well, we’re connected in the community. However, the space does not have phone or internet.
  • We’re not staffed. Thanks to Larimer County Workforce, we often have a part-time intern. Otherwise, we’re run by volunteers at Toolbox Creative who sneak in Art Lab work while they’re doing their real job. So when you use the space, you’re the bouncer, the janitor, the greeter, the curator and the strike crew.
  • We’re not a rehearsal space. But fortunately our friends at Higher Ground and the Music District are. Rock on!
  • We’re not a studio space. While we encourage artists to work in the space while their show is up, we are not a short-term or long-term studio space. Fortunately, there are great studio spaces in the area: the Artery across the street, Artworks in Loveland among others.

What are the rules for using the space and other smart questions:

  • Art sales are permitted. There is no commission taken by Art Lab. If you sell it, you keep it (that’s why we are asking you to “work” the space while your show is active).
  • You can host a reception in the space, but no alcoholic beverages are permitted. Sounds boring, huh? Just get creative — who wouldn’t love to attend an art opening that served milk shakes?
  • Yes, we have a restroom.
  • Yes, the space is insured.
  • If you sell something, you are required to collect and remit all appropriate taxes.
  • You can teach a class in the space. We have tables and chairs, and love the idea of a hands-on learning experience. (Classes only require a one-day commitment).
  • Clean up after yourself. There are garbage and recycling bins in the back alley. If you find the place messy, clean it up. If you find it really messy, let us know so that you’re not held accountable, then clean it up. Leave Art Lab better than you found it—that’s the magic of the space.
  • If the Art Lab checklist is not followed and any serious clean-up or repairs are needed after your use of the space, a fee may be charged.
  • This Art Lab web site is a great opportunity to promote yourself, so please send us a one or two paragraph description, photo and links to your Facebook or web pages. We’ll do our part to promote YOUR Art Lab experience.
  • We are open to larger events with multiple artists — please email us or call us at 970-829-1953 to share your ideas.
  • How can we afford to offer the space for next to nothing? The owners of the building let us use the space free of charge, Toolbox Creative is doing their part to make Fort Collins a better to place to live by managing the bookings, web site, PR and marketing and we have a bevy of volunteers that help make it happen.
  • You will be sharing the space with other creative souls — so an open mind and collaborative spirit is required!

What’s in it for you?

You get to use this space to showcase your talents. You can apply to use the space more than once. In addition to the store front exposure in Old Town Fort Collins, you may display posters, hand out brochures, promote your web site, use the space to share your talent with the world. In return, we’ll promote you on the Art Lab web site, and be there to cheer you on.

Individuals or groups that use the space will be asked to supply high resolution images (jpegs via email) and a short description that best represent themselves, their performance or creative project. This information and imagery will serve as the basis for our promotion of the project and inclusion in the Art Lab site.