BEMIS CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
Omaha is a segregated city that houses extreme disparities between class and opportunity. Omaha recently claimed the greatest number of millionaires per capita, yet is also home to the highest percentage of black children living in poverty of any city in the country. These demographic conditions are starkly present in North Omaha, the poorest and most concentrated African-American community in the city.
Despite these conditions, North Omaha is also in the middle of an extraordinary resurgence of cultural and economic activity led by local organizations including Love’s Jazz and Arts Center, Omaha Economic Development Corporation, the Union for Contemporary Art, Malcolm X Foundation, Seventy Five North Revitalization Corp., Great Plains Black History Museum and others.
Launched as a collaboration between Theaster Gates, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Rebuild Foundation and Big Mamas Kitchen, the renovation of the Carver Bank – the site of the first African American-owned bank in Omaha, began in the summer 2012. Opening in late March 2013, the 2,600-square-foot facility includes exhibition and performance space, three artist studios, and Big Mama’s Sandwich Shop.
Carver Bank joins Theater’s other place-based initiatives to develop a renewed sense of place through spaces of “urban ecstasy” and material reuse.
Photos: Larry Gawel, Chris Machian, Mike Sinclair