The MAC will blow your creative mind.

Manitou Art Center has been around since 1988, and it’s still going strong.

But while it has 350 dues-paying members who use the center’s array of spaces and equipment, there’s room for many more, says Executive Director Natalie Johnson.

The newest thing at the center is its marriage to the Pikes Peak Library District branch, which co-located there last March, allowing anyone with a library card to access equipment at the center.

That equipment ranges from sewing machines to a dye lab, from laser cutters to 3D printers, from a wood shop to a ceramics studio and more.

In fact, the center has the only photography dark room in the region that’s open to the community. The same is true of its printing press.

“We always joke, if it’s heavy, expensive or requires ventilation, people will come to the Art Center to use it,” Johnson says. “Our model is tool sharing, space sharing, skill sharing.”

The MAC also houses 18 businesses and even offers skills training.

“You can come to the Art Center and do hobbies and learn on a casual basis,” Johnson says, “but we want to provide real-world training and access. We’ve had 40 people go through introduction to welding courses free of charge. We help people acquire skills to find jobs in the region.”

While some woodworking instruction is offered, she notes the center doesn’t provide a full-scale cabinetry class, although visitors can learn to use the basics, such as a table saw and a band saw.

But there’s more — meeting spaces, office spaces and art galleries.

The Hagnauer Gallery is booked for the coming 2½ years, she says, but the First Amendment gallery is open to new work every other month for an unjuried show. The next time the gallery will accept new work will be late January 2022.

The center’s three full-time and three part-time employees, along with a handful of volunteers, serve roughly 8,000 people per year.

To sign up for a class, you must become a member. That requires an in-person visit where you’ll take a tour and fill out a form, including a waiver of liability. You’ll also need a library card. If you want 24/7 access to the facility, you’ll pay $50 per month. There’s no charge to use the center during regular business hours, which run Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

As for the $12,700 the MAC hopes to raise through the Give! Campaign, the money would not be designated for a specific purpose, which is the beauty of those funds, Johnson says.

“Typically, it goes into our general fund for things that no one wants to pay for,” she says, such as repairing toilets and furnaces. “We can use it to pay for all the things it’s difficult to find a donor to pay for. Give! is huge for that, because it’s one of the few funding sources that doesn’t have some kind of programmatic requirements.”

In short, the MAC welcomes artists, tinkerers, collaborators, and anyone with a good idea in the arts. “We want everyone to come to the Art Center with their library card and learn to do something new in 2022,” Johnson says. 

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.