With New Home, 3S Artspace Hopes To Be Hub For Arts, Food In Portsmouth

Mar 17, 2015

A new home for 3S Artspace in Portsmouth opens this week.

The renovated facility will feature a music venue, an art gallery, artist studios, and a restaurant.

Chris Greiner is executive of director of 3S Artspace.

He joined Morning Edition to talk about the new facility.

You’ve talked about this new art space filling a unique niche that’s lacking on the Seacoast. Many already see the area as having a rich arts and culture scene, so what do mean by that?

It’s interesting. I get asked this question all the time and one of the things that’s really important is that for me, having lived on the Seacoast for 15 years, I think we all take pride in being the cultural capital of the state. I think if we want to continue to hold that title, it’s something that we have to continually pay forward. Portsmouth is growing, the Seacoast is growing, and as we see hotels and new shops and downtown expanding, we need our cultural organizations to expand, as well to fill that need.

What are some of the highlights of the new facility?

We’ve got a 75-seat restaurant, a 400 capacity performance space, and about an 1,800-square foot, noncommercial art gallery.

Do you hope to have a focus on local artists in this facility? What’s your vision for this? Is it going to be bringing in some national shows? Is it going to be bringing in Seacoast-based artists?

So that’s one of the things we think is really exciting about the size of the space we’re going to be working with. We want to be only a resource for local and regional artists, but we also are large enough that we can bring in artists from national and international circles and you’ll see in the programming that we’ve already rolled out, you’ll see that connection, that balance between the two.  Our programming is going to be daring, it’s going to be challenging. We really want to bring new arts experiences to the Seacoast and to the state.

How do you see the restaurant fitting in? What will the menu be like?

The restaurant is a gathering space. A lot of people have seen the restaurant as the most audacious part of the business model for us, but as it goes, what we’re doing is in a lot of ways a lot like the sort of contemporary museum model. You don’t go to a museum these days that doesn’t have a great place to eat, some place to see performances, and then arts on the walls. You want to have that holistic experience. That’s kind of what we’re doing with 3S. We want the restaurant to be a hub for the creative community and the community at large.

This was a $3.2 million project. How big was fundraising and local support to the success of the project?

We could not have done this without 100 percent support from the community, and that’s individuals and businesses alike. People stepped up in ways I could not have possibly imagined. There’s really been a tidal wave of support. All the funds that we’ve raised with very few exceptions have come from the region and the state.

What kinds of events are planned for this week to mark the grand opening?

We’re bringing in Sam Amidon, a wonderful, very accessible folk artist on Friday night. We go from an accessible folk concert to a night of adventurous electronic music, national acts. On Sunday, we’re doing an album release show for a Dover-based band. During the day, we’re doing these community open houses. People can come down and enjoy the space. We’ll have a panel discussion on Sunday afternoon. Saturday afternoon, we’re bringing a children’s book author up from Boston to do something really interesting. Jef Czekaj, he writes children’s books and he loves hip hop. He has a book called “Hip and Hop Don’t Stop.” So he’s going to read from that book and in between the readings, he’s going to be spinning age-appropriate hip hop.

So a lot of things going on this week for the grand opening.

It’s jam packed. We tried to touch on as many points as possible.