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3rd EyE and the Communal Space are buying a building in downtown New Bedford

and we need your help!

For over two decades 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment has helped unlock the creative potential of youth so they can become transformative leaders in our city. For the first 14 years of our existence, we rented space in downtown New Bedford, which served as a drop-in center for underserved youth. We were able to offer classes and workshops in music production, song writing, photography, and video. It was a safe and nurturing environment for young people from neighborhoods with few cultural resources. But like many small non-profit organizations, we struggled financially, and eventually we had to give up our space and drastically cut back our operations. For a brief time, it seemed as though we might have to close up shop.

But we bounced back, in many ways stronger than ever. 3rd EyE has experienced a remarkable rebirth in the last several years, and has developed new partnerships, most significantly with the Communal Space, a BIPOC-led  cultural incubator founded by 3rd EyE leadership, which has served as our home for the last few years. In 2017, we brought back the 3rd EyE Open, our signature annual cultural arts festival, now a fixture on the downtown cultural calendar. In 2020, we received the first-ever “Art Is Everywhere” grant in 2020 for our project “Your New Bedford”, highlighting the diversity of the city’s neighorhoods. Once the pandemic hit, we rapidly redesigned our programming for the virtual platform, with the Communal Space as the nerve center. This became an invaluable resource for our communities at a time when both artists and audiences were sorely in need of each other. Our programming provided an opportunity for people across cultural communities to dialogue about vital issues, from racial justice to wellness, and learn from each other. And we’ve continued to develop and expand our partnerships both locally, statewide, and even overseas –this summer we’ll be piloting an exchange with a youth organization in the UK.

We’ve revitalized our leadership structure, cultivating new leaders among young artists who are “graduates” of 3rd EyE programs like Hip Hop Club, promoting BIPOC leadership, and establishing relationships with organizations like Buy Black New Bedford.

But we still haven’t had a place of our own. For a few years, mediumstudio generously lent us their facility for meetings and performance showcases. But they lost their space. The Communal Space has been our home for the last two years, and the collaboration has allowed both organizations to thrive and grow – to the point where we have outgrown our current location at 246 Union Street.

We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a building in downtown New Bedford – and we need your help to make the most of this moment. This comes at a critical juncture, not only for our two organizations but for the future of the city.

Gentrification and the rising price of real estate are threatening to once more make downtown inaccessible to many of the diverse cultural communities that make up our vibrant city. Other small non-profits, cultural organizations, and small businesses – particularly those that are BIPOC-led – are already feeling the pinch. One of our sister organizations, Dream Out Loud, has already been priced out of downtown.

When we brought back the Open in 2017, after a 3-year hiatus, we made a very conscious decision to move the festival to downtown NB to help bridge what was often a huge chasm between the downtown business and arts communities, and the culturally diverse and low-income neighborhoods that are home to most of the youth that 3rd EyE serves. And we were thrilled when core members founded The Communal Space as a BIPOC-led resource center in the heart of downtown. So we are deeply committed to staying downtown, to continue providing that vital bridge so that young people – the future leaders of our city – feel a sense of belonging and ownership.

Our new location will put both organizations on solid footing, ensuring our future stability. In this way, we can expand in order to reach our fullest potential, enabling us to support and enrich the cultural and economic vitality of the city. Having our own space will allow us to re-establish a full calendar of classes and workshops so we can continue to nurture talent across the generations. Classes and workshops in dance, songwriting, video, music production and other topics can both help residents unleash their creative potential, while also developing marketable skills. The facility can also expand our partnerships as the space is large enough to provide office space for a few other organizations.

We’ve made a deposit on the building and have signed a purchase and sale agreement. We’re in the process of securing a mortgage. But we need to raise $100,000 immediately for the down payment. And we need your help to do so.

By investing in the future of 3rd EyE and the Communal Space, you are investing in the future of New Bedford –our focus on youth empowerment means that we are supporting future generations of our city’s leaders, in the arts, non-profit and business sectors. You are also helping ensure that downtown development does not have to come at the cost of diversity, equity, and inclusion

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