Business of Art Center. The Center for Contemporary Art and Craft. Manitou Art Center.

Though it’s gone through multiple name changes and incarnations over the years, finally landing on Manitou Art Center, the Manitou Springs staple always has served as a haven for artists and art lovers. Saturday, the institution will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a fundraiser gala, “Macnificent 2018: 30 Years of Artistic Passion.”

The event features heavy hors d’oeuvres by Adam’s Mountain Cafe, drinks, a silent auction, music by the Charlie Milo Trio and a PechaKucha, a string of fast-paced presentations. From 25 proposals, eight folks from around the community were selected to give a short talk on something they’re passionate about. Each person will present 20 slides and have 20 seconds to speak about each slide, clocking in at six minutes and 40 seconds per presentation. PechaKucha originated in Japan as a way to keep architects from droning on about their projects.

The nonprofit’s main mission these days is a “lot of sharing,” said MAC Executive Director Natalie Johnson.

“Space sharing, tool sharing and skill sharing,” she said.

When the recession hit, MAC staff learned that people need large, expensive equipment, such as a loom, kiln or giclee printer, but they don’t often have the space to house it. That’s where the MAC stepped in.

“We’ve been investing in that area,” said Johnson, “like wood or metal shops, a darkroom, paper making, print making, fiber lab, 3D printers, software. It becomes affordable when everybody pays a little.”

Need a hammer? Or some welding knowledge for your project? MAC probably has what you need or can point you in the right direction. Visitors first must take a safety class, offered every Tuesday and Thursday, to get basic instructions. Then they can decide what they want to learn, and MAC staff will hook them up with experts who can decipher how much training and time is needed. Cost and time vary with what a person aims to do.

Beyond tool sharing, the two MAC buildings are used for any number of community engagements, including music, theater, art exhibits and more than 60 group meetings every month. About 75 member artists have access day and night to use the equipment, so at any time, you could run across somebody creating something.

“The thing that’s fun is when we opened 30 years ago, we really were a makerspace,” said Johnson. “Even though the term didn’t exist. We had the printing press and were sharing equipment. Now when people go on a tour, they say the amount of equipment is impressive. We’ve had 30 years to accumulate it. Newer makerspaces are starting from scratch. We have the old-school stuff.”

Jennifer Mulson, The Gazette, 636-0270,

Contact the writer: 636-0270

A&E and features reporter

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