A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery
126 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060
Tues. – Thurs. 12-5
Fri. – Sat. 12-8
Closed on Mondays
Available Potential Enterprises, Ltd. exists to support contemporary artists working in all disciplines, by preserving and supporting the spaces in which they create, perform and exhibit their work.
A.P.E.'s original space in 1977
Founded in 1977 by and for artists, A.P.E. is a not for profit, 501 C-3 whose programs in dance, theater, visual arts, spoken word, multimedia, movement and arts education have helped to define and create the city's artistic character for more than three decades. A.P.E. also serves as an "umbrella," or fiscal agent, for a number of resident and affiliated artists and art groups.
A.P.E. is committed to preserving "working space" for the arts in the center of town, easily accessible to artist and audience alike, and to supporting the development of challenging, experimental and notable work, both within and outside the mainstream.
A.P.E. receives funding from box office receipts, sales of artwork, individual donors, corporate, local, state and national sources, as well as many in-kind contributions.
From 1977 through 2006, A.P.E. occupied the top floor of Thornes Market, a five story renovated department store in the heart of downtown Northampton, Massachusetts.
A.P.E. was conceived of as primarily a workspace for artists. It quickly evolved into a partnership between revenue generating local businesses and non-revenue-generating open space. Its "shape" was largely determined by the creative needs of the Northampton community, tempered by the strong commitments of its directors to their understanding that space, time, and protection from economic pressure are critical for the realization of new and original work. A.P.E. has always insisted that the work of creating is valuable in and of itself, separate from any economic return.
The A.P.E./Thornes 'marriage' was a successful working model. It not only covered all its debt, capital improvements, operating costs, distributed cash to the partners, and provided them personal work and office space, but also contributed 20% of its leasable space rent free to the community through A.P.E.
The model ultimately failed however, when the partners were unable to build into the mission of the business a way to pass its success down to the next generation of owners. Unable to make a convincing case for the valuable role that space for creative exploration played in the health and success of the whole building, in the end, they only passed down the building's success as a business, and in this classic economic model, A.P.E. was "worthless."
When A.P.E. was an integral part of Thornes Market it managed, programmed and maintained 10,000 square feet of space loosely divided into performance, exhibition, studio and teaching areas. Because A.P.E.'s founding Director Gordon Thorne was also one of the owners of the building, A.P.E. was able to survive the escalating real estate values which, in the past 30 years, have forced most artists and Art spaces to re locate outside of Northampton.
When Thornes Market was sold in 2006, the A.P.E. spaces were converted to office use and an important performance, exhibition, and creative work space was lost to the community. In 2007 Gordon Thorne used proceeds from the sale of Thornes to purchase another building at 126 Main street. In 2008, after extensive renovations, A.P.E. moved its office into this new location.