After a decade on the Southside, the Cathedral Arts Project has returned home to Downtown. Founded in 1993 at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, the non-profit organization works to provide access to visual and performing-arts instruction for underserved, school-aged children. Thrilled that CAP is once again Downtown, we recently caught up with CAP Chief Operating Officer Forrest Holland, who oversaw the relocation to and interior design of their new space Downtown.
Why did CAP want to return back to Downtown?
At such a pivotal moment in CAP’s history, it never felt more appropriate to return to the core of Downtown. We made a conscious decision to position our new headquarters in closer proximity to our civic, community and cultural partners. Not only does the urban core give CAP higher visibility, but also it reflects our long-term commitment to Jacksonville’s future and participation in Downtown revitalization.
Why did you all decide on the Elks building?
If you can believe it, this was a two-year search. While there were numerous buildings with available space Downtown, very few fit our desired criteria when looking for a permanent home. When we learned about the availability of the third floor in the Elks Building, we were elated! After our first visit, I knew I wanted to do anything possible to secure this space for CAP.
It was a space that fulfilled our internal priorities and also allowed us to open the space to the community. The building has so many wonderful historical and architectural elements – including the beautiful loggia opening onto Laura Street – and the potential to be a strong Downtown presence. It was an unbelievable discovery, and the potential was limitless.
Why is it important for CAP to be Downtown? How will it help your goals/mission?
Our new location in the heart of Downtown is an intentional statement indicative of the critical role the Cathedral Arts Project plays in high-quality arts education in our community. Our closer proximity to partners is a springboard for our growing palette of services. The new space allows us to offer seminars, professional development, board meetings, cocktail parties, private dinners, gallery openings, Art Walk receptions and a creative workspace.
Tell us about the space. What are the specials features of your new office? What do you love most?
Our space is more than 7,800 square feet (more than double the size of our old office) and includes administrative offices, a collaborative workspace, community and student galleries, a beautiful loggia and a large boardroom. The previous tenant was an architectural firm, and while they paid homage to the historic vernacular within the space, they also added timeless, modern updates. These previous decisions helped inform our current design. It is not by chance that our space is inspirational and showcases our creative spirit. Everywhere you turn, there is a nod to excellence with a playful reminder that our organizational culture encourages coloring outside the lines.
From a professional standpoint, what do you love about being Downtown?
There is great energy Downtown. You cannot beat walking out of your front door and running into donors, board members or other cultural colleagues on your way to lunch or to a meeting around the corner. Serendipitous encounters are the new norm and facilitate stronger professional relationships. We also are thrilled to be able to invite colleagues to our space for meetings – something we previously were not able to do because of the distance and size of our space.
From a personal standpoint, what do you love about working Downtown?
I enjoy the breadth of activities happening on any given day and the walkability of the area. When you are working Downtown and decide to go for a run after work, to the theater or simply have a drink with colleagues, you have endless options. Lunch opportunities also are plentiful, and our staff more regularly steps away from their desk at noon to take a short walk to their favorite lunch spot.
Would you recommend a business/organization move Downtown? Why?
Absolutely! The energy is contagious! With our move, there was an immediate shift in staff morale. Not only have we already seen a boost in creativity and productivity, but we also have seen immediate results of partnerships due to our relocation and proximity to the Downtown core.
What’s next for your office space?
What will we not be doing? We will be open for Art Walk, gallery openings, private receptions, performances, UNF classes and host to a series of professional development opportunities. I look forward to welcoming guests into our space so they can see firsthand the value it brings to Downtown.
What’s new on the horizon for CAP?
We are consistently expanding our programming and initiatives, so there’s always something new around the corner. Right now, we are working on making our community gallery a top spot for local artists to showcase their work and for the community to have access to quality, local art. We also recently launched an initiative called Curating Confidence, which will celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of our students by installing their artwork in their schools. We’re excited about the potential for new opportunities to present themselves now that we’re in the core of Jacksonville’s cultural community.
Anything else to add?
We could not have moved Downtown at a better time. There is so much growth and revitalization happening right now, and it has proven not only beneficial for Jacksonville but also for us as an organization. There are so many opportunities for us to collaborate with community and cultural partners and great events that our students and teachers have been able to participate in, including Art Walk, Art in the Park and EdSpark.