Combine the artistic freedom of Andy Warhol’s Factory with the entrepreneurial determination of a bull with a BA and you’ll get something resembling the Arts Garage, the venue where I’ll be “parked” this semester. To get started, I sat down with the venue’s Executive Director, Ola Solanke, to find out how the venue came to be and what it’s all about.
After coming up in the New York City arts scene, Solanke found the fragmented arts community in Philly disappointing.
“The idea stemmed out of my observation that a lot of artists struggle to showcase their work and settle for ill-equipped venues,” Solanke said. “I wanted a warehouse setting that was much more permissive in terms of allowing the body of work to be shown.”
The Arts Garage — a live art, entertainment and nightlife venue that features literary and contemporary performance artists and nightly DJ dance music — is located at 16th Street and Ridge Avenue. The road to completion, however, has been grueling.
Solanke has been working on the Arts Garage for a long time. It all began in 1994 when he was a senior majoring in risk management at Temple. In the nine months leading up to graduation, he dedicated himself to putting together the business plan for what he hoped would become a home for a community tha