History and Vision
Established in 2011, The Union for Contemporary Art is a 501(c)3 organization created in response to needs expressed by artists and those who saw the arts as an unexpendable resource to the greater Omaha community. Despite its vibrant, creative environment, Omaha continues to lose many of its artists and members of it’s creative community. Without a Masters-level education program in our city, opportunities for exhibition and critical reviews for emerging artists are severely limited. Few forums currently exist to bring national arts leaders to Omaha in ways which allow for meaningful interaction with the community. Additionally, many artists lack access to affordable studio space and the equipment necessary to support their creative process.
Beyond the challenges faced by our arts community – Omaha remains a city divided along racial and socio-economic lines. The North Omaha community has been designated by the City of Omaha to be an Area of Low-Income Concentration and an Area of Minority Concentration. The area contains some of Omaha’s most physically, economically and socially distressed neighborhoods.
Our vision for Omaha is to create an environment where the arts are cultivated and respected. We envision a city where artists are supported and where their talents and contributions to our cultural identity are celebrated. We strive to strengthen our community by rising above the lines that divide us — racially, socially, and economically — so that we may become a more unified and culturally vibrant city. We are committed to using the arts to create an open city where everyone feels welcome and engaged.
By providing our services through a facility located in North Omaha, we are creating a bridge between this under-served neighborhood and the greater Omaha community. The artists we assist through our programs are required to give back to the community through volunteer service in North Omaha – creating a cyclical process of supporting the arts while building community.
The Union for Contemporary Art is committed to strengthening the creative culture of the greater Omaha area by providing direct support to artists and increasing the visibility of contemporary art forms in our community. We are committed to uniting artists and the community to inspire positive social change. The organization was founded on the belief that the arts can be a vehicle for social justice and greater civic engagement; it is our hope that the arts can be used as a vehicle to connect our diverse community in innovative and meaningful ways.
The Union for Contemporary Art strives to:
- Engage a broad and diverse audience to create an inclusive arts community and act as an institution dedicated to the contemplation, exploration, and discussion of contemporary art and culture.
- Provide dynamic, innovative arts education to Omaha’s youth, through access to the arts and opportunities for creativity regardless of socio-economic background.
- Cultivate the creative process and provide opportunities to advance the professional careers of emerging and mid-career artists in the region through educational programs, access to studios and workspace and financial support.
- Present contemporary visual and performing arts, through exhibitions and programs that are dynamic, thought provoking, engaging and experimental. The Union curates opportunities that provide context, develop appreciation, and add meaning to contemporary art and culture.
- Embrace the ethical ideology of social responsibility. In all practices, The Union is respectful of all members of our community and mindful of our environment. The organization strives for inclusivity in all endeavors and utilizes the arts as a catalyst for social justice.
- Build relationships with national artists, art organizations and art professionals to create an ongoing cultural exchange of work and ideas.
We have established an arts facility in North Omaha at North 24th and Burdette Streets, from which we will facilitate several programs to serve our mission, while providing opportunities for the greater Omaha community to be more engaged in North Omaha.