The roots of Central Arts of Bedford began when Bedford Mayor, Jim Griffin, had the idea to put artwork into empty storefronts. The retail center we are currently in was about 80 percent vacant. The idea was that those looking to lease a business would be more enticed with a storefront full of art. Today only two spaces remain vacant, so Mayor Griffin’s plan worked. This success is a testament to the power of art.

Joshua Santillan, Central Arts of Bedford’s founder, still serves on the Cultural Arts Commission council that made the storefront project happen. As the spaces were bought up, Santillan personally leased the space that currently houses Central Arts of Bedford. In early 2017, we acquired 501c status.

It is our belief that anywhere on this planet, where there are clusters of people, someone is making something creative. Bedford is no exception. Our job is to nurture and encourage Bedford artists, but we represent artists from all over the Metroplex and even as far as Killeen.

At least twice a month, we produce themed art shows. Additionally, once a month we host a film night, where we transform the gallery into a theatre and showcase local and independent short films. After each feature, local directors and actors are often available for talkbacks. We host classes, paint, and sips, but at the heart of Central Arts of Bedford is our community outreach.

We look for places and people that could benefit from art. We actively engage and make art happen where it normally would not. Some of our current projects include work with the Clubhouse for Special Needs, here in Bedford, Empower Inc in Fort Worth, and projects with the local YMCA.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Fundraising is our biggest obstacle at the moment. We have many new ideas for the new year, however, and are very optimistic. We have many events planned and different ways for people to help us blossom what we’ve created so far, even further.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Central Arts of Bedford – what should we know?
It is our belief that some time in art history audiences became alienated from art. A person who is asked what their favorite band usually doesn’t hesitate to volunteer a name. Ask someone who their favorite artist is and they may hesitate. They may say, they don’t know much about art.

Our agenda is to make it clear that art is for everyone, both as creator and audience. Art is an expression. As humans, we all have the capability of expressing. This is not to say that it doesn’t take work to perfect that expression, but it is within everyone’s reach. It’s no different with someone looking at art. We all have opinions and shouldn’t be afraid to vocalize them.

We believe that these philosophies shape the eclectic nature of the art that gravitates our way. We exhibit all manner of artists, some seasoned, some brand new–all with diverse and different styles. Pop art we are fond of because its nature is an icebreaker to those estranged by art to find something familiar.

In general, we are just proud of being. Artists regularly create personal works at the gallery. We are prolific with our art shows, events, and projects. There are no current plans to slow our output down, and this demeanor we are proud of the most.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Indomitable spirit, persistence, and passion.

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