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Pullen Arts Center has reopened its doors to the community three years after it was closed for renovations. The space, located in North Pullen Park, invites artists of all ages and skill levels to participate in workshops and programs according to their interests. Many emerging artists also have the opportunity to display their work in the gallery spaces. 

Eliza Kiser, the director of Pullen Arts Center, explained the background of the center and the significance of these renovations to the artists in the community. 

“Pullen Arts Center is one of two visual arts community arts education centers that the city of Raleigh runs,” Kiser said. “We never had an opportunity before to really center the needs of artists in the space and we never really got to think about the space from the artist’s perspective, and how we could support the community artists in Raleigh.” 

The 2014 Parks Bond gave the Pullen Arts Center a $6 million budget to use for renovations and expansions. 

“We wanted to address infrastructure needs: to make sure that we increased the square footage of all of our studios, to make sure that we had power, plumbing and ventilation everywhere that we needed it,” Kiser said. “We also wanted to make sure that people could really embrace the fact that we are a community arts center inside of a beautiful, historic park. We tried to create a lot of connections between indoors and outdoors.” 

Another goal that Kiser mentioned was representing local artists in the newly expanded exhibition space, as well as showing works by kids, teens, and emerging, intermediate and professional artists. 

Brittany Carlson, assistant director at Pullen Arts Center, works with youth and teen programming. The renovation has encouraged the development of workshops for kids and teens. 

“We are offering work-study opportunities for NC State students,” Carlson said. “That's a really exciting opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning more about working in the arts because they’ll really get to learn about the different studio spaces and the gallery and exhibition program.” 

Although typical beginners classes are six to eight-week intensives centered around different art forms, Kiser said that the renovation makes it possible for artists to participate in more casual, try-it type classes.

“With those beginning level classes you’re learning how to use the tools and some basic techniques,” Kiser said. “You're learning how to stay safe in the studio, and then, what you are really doing is making sure that you have the skills that you need to be able to move on to be successful in creating self directed projects.”

When asked what most excited her about the space, Carlson mentioned the new additions to the studios. 

“The fact that we have all of these individual studios for specific mediums and access to specialized equipment is just really really exciting,” Carlson said. “I know I’m personally looking forward to maybe taking some jewelry and pottery classes.” 

The renovated Pullen Arts Center offers three gallery spaces, a bookmaking and printmaking studio, a jewelry studio, a painting studio, pottery studios and classrooms. The center plans to continue renovations of the third floor, which had to be paused due to COVID-19. 

The center is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and is closed on Friday.

“We are right between the NC State Belltower and the Gregg Museum of Art and Design,” Kiser said. “We are kind of this small sliver of Pullen Park property that ends up sandwiched between two NC State properties.” 

For additional information about Pullen Arts Center, visit its website.