I spend quite a lot of time at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center when you consider all the art openings, plays and other events I’ve attended there. But I wonder how many people looking for things to do in Fort Worth have never been there? The building is part of Fort Worth history, and it’s very much alive these days as part of the vibrant and interesting Fort Worth art scene.
When you visit an art opening at FWCAC, you’ll probably run into three basic kinds of people: those who are there for the free food, those who are there to see the art and those who are there because they’re somehow related to the art that’s on display. And me? I’m a hybrid visitor. I don’t have any art to display, but I like the fact that the interesting art displays often come along with some free food.
Getting To Know The FWCAC
When the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth moved into it’s very modern new facility more than a decade ago, its old location needed a new purpose. Still a masterpiece in its own right, it came under the ownership of the city, and city leaders accepted proposals for how it could best be used.
The Arts Council of Fort Worth won the right to use the building, and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center was born. Today, it serves a wide variety of purposes because it has so many different kinds of spaces available. It provides affordable and accessible space for art exhibitions, performances and special events as well as offices to arts groups that were once spread around the city and had to fend for themselves when selecting office and performance or display space.
The FWCAC also serves the public by presenting monthly art openings and a number of performances in its theaters and galleries. It seems there’s always something happening — but I wonder how many of the events could be better publicized?
In all, there’s more than 77,000 square feet of space at FWCAC that hosts Fort Worth dance, theatre, art, music, opera and other events. Specifically, there are the gallery spaces as well as the 500-seat Scott Theatre, the small black box Sanders Theatre and the basement space — all available for rent. Plus, there are the office spaces too.
My Experiences At The FWCAC
For years, I didn’t really know what the Community Arts Center is or why I would want to go there. These days, I go to the free gallery receptions almost every month and have also seen some plays there.
Both theatres are unusual and interesting places for performances. While the Sanders Theatre puts performances almost in your lap because it’s so small, the deep and aging Scott Theater is a cavernous place for large events with a lobby that was surely once very grand.
But the monthly gallery receptions are what the FWCAC does best. That’s because the doors are flung open to the public, and hundreds come each month. Free food — often catered by Blue Mesa or Central Market or simply provided by the displaying artists and their families — is part of the draw, but the art is always interesting and often inspired.
A recent gallery reception included brightly colored paintings throughout all the galleries. Other months, displays have included pottery shows, modern art that defies description and displays of artwork on paper done by children. You never know what you’ll get at the Community Arts Center.
And that’s the point, I suppose. Artists, cooperatives and collectives with nowhere else to display their work can show off their talents inexpensively in these public galleries.
And theatre troupes and organizations with no facilities of their own can take full advantage of the available intimacy or capacity of the two theatres. A dance recital one night may be followed by a murder mystery with an ethnically diverse cast the next night, and it all seems right at home.
If people have something to say, something to do or something to show, there’s a way they can do it at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
Good To Know
- Parking is a hassle since the city controls almost all parking around the center and requires payment at all hours unless a presenting organization arranges free parking, which is rare. During gallery receptions and other after-hours events, the center’s employee parking off Montgomery and small parking lot off Lancaster are open to the public. The adjacent garage and surface lots require payment and require navigating finicky electronic gates. (I usually park in the University of North Texas Health Science Center lot across Camp Bowie from the Amon Carter and stroll the two blocks to the center. Health Science Center parking is free nights and weekends except during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.)
- During plays and some other special events, attendees are encouraged by some performance groups to park across Montgomery at the Lutheran church. The church makes parking available for free when it doesn’t have an event of its own.
- Gallery receptions are usually held on the first or second Friday of the month, but the date varies. There is also a gallery reception event during spring and fall gallery nights presented by the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association.
- The FWCAC’s website includes a full calendar of upcoming performances and receptions.
- Galleries in the FWCAC are generally rented by the month, so each month’s joint gallery receptions feature mostly works that were not on display the month before.
- A satellite gallery called Art7 Crockett Community Gallery is located in the posh nearby West 7th development and is open limited hours. It also features rotating displays of artwork.