Mallory Avenue Christian Church was founded in 1922 with the purpose “to serve its community without distinction of person or race.” Construction of the basement was completed in 1925, and the congregation met there until adding two additional floors in 1948. In the 1970s, the church became home to the YWCA and “People are Beautiful” program—which offered youth activities, cooking workshops, art classes, and other services to the neighborhood. In the 1990s, Portland Parks & Recreation operated after school programs out of the building.
By early 2012, the building was in poor shape and no longer in use. A pair of Portland developers with an appreciation for history decided to give it new life, turning it into a performance venue that also provides workspace to artists and arts organizations. In December 2018, the Abbey was purchased by Community Development Partners (CDP)—an affordable housing developer. And in July 2018, Grains of Salt (GoS) came onboard for one-year to serve as interim Executive Director, managing operational and building improvements. In the spring of 2019, GoS will recruit long-term leadership to fuel the Abbey’s continued success.
MISSION & VISION
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates the Abbey was created in 2015 to sustainably address the need for affordable arts space in the city of Portland. We utilize the building’s 23,000 sqft by offering below-market workspace to artists and arts organizations, affordable event rental spaces, and signature programming that is responsive to the desires of our neighbors and the city’s arts community.
To nurture the arts in NE Portland by providing affordable education, gallery, studio, and performance space to community members of all ages.
We envision a local arts ecosystem where community members of all demographics can thrive.
We seek to cultivate the following values among the building’s staff, tenants, neighbors, artists, and audiences:
- SUPPORT ARTISTS – we strive to promote the arts in NE Portland and we do this not only by providing space, but also by making sure that our hiring practices and approaches toward collaboration focus on supporting artists both financially and creatively.
- CULTIVATE TRUST & GENEROSITY – as a home to both tenants and short-term event renters, the atmosphere and culture of collaboration within our building is essential to our success. Trust and generosity are the two principles we hope to cultivate within our building and its inhabitants.
- SEEK DIVERSITY – our vision for the arts in NE Portland demands that we actively seek out underrepresented artists, perspectives, and ideas. We are committed to embracing and reflecting the broadest possible range of people who live, work, and converge in NE Portland.
- BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR – we are proud to be part of the King/Humboldt neighborhoods and the Alberta Arts District, and we want to make sure that members of our surrounding community are proud to call us neighbors as well. We work to be a valuable asset to the local community and responsive to its needs.
- STAY AFFORDABLE – finding the right space at the right price has become increasingly difficult for artists in NE Portland. We commit to keeping all of our pricing permanently below market rates and strive to make our spaces as affordable as possible for mission-aligned organizations and individuals.