Mission and History
The Westport Arts Center (WAC) is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community.
WAC has been dedicated to connecting the community through the arts for more than forty years and reaches more than 11,000 people annually through outstanding arts and education programs. These programs include: contemporary art exhibitions, arts education, and the performance arts of chamber and jazz music and film. With a goal to inspire and educate younger audiences, WAC’s arts education and outreach programs for ages 2 – 18 will reach over 4,000 students this year through school field trips, workshops, and family programs.
WAC is fortunate to have a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors, a talented artistic and administrative staff, a growing number of artist and community members, and supporting donors. We encourage you to explore our website to find meaningful ways in which you can connect to our community through the arts.
The Westport Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. For more information, please click on the GuideStar logo
The Westport Arts Center is located in a beautiful gallery space on the banks of the Saugatuck River in Westport. In addition to presenting exhibitions, concerts, lectures and film screenings in our 2000 sq. ft. gallery, children's workshops are held in a studio on the premises and a smaller Studio Gallery "annex" hosts smaller exhibitions. Our galleries are open to the public, and are handicapped accessible with a ramp and parking in our rear lot.
As early as 1929, it was reported by several major newspapers that Westport was “the home of the most distinctive community in the world.” In 1934, the town appropriated $3,000 (a huge amount of money in those days!) to form Westport’s first official arts organization. Since then, the arts have continued to feed Westport’s reputation as a highly charged, intellectual community –with a focus on multiple artistic disciplines.
The history of the Westport Arts Center dates back to 1969, when it was first incorporated as the Westport-Weston Arts Council “to sponsor and encourage cultural and educational activities in the creative and performing arts in the towns of Westport, Weston, and the surrounding areas.”
The organization was renamed Westport Arts Center 1986 and until 1999 was housed in the Greens Farms School, which offered gallery and performance space as well as studio space for member artists. In June, 2002, with substantial support from its Board of Directors, the Arts Center moved into its current 3600 square foot gallery space on Riverside Avenue.
In keeping with its mission, the Arts Center continually strives to advance its arts education and outreach programs, and offer opportunities for local artists to share their work. Within the larger community, WAC offers an educational outreach program, Connections, which is designed to enhance arts education in under-served urban schools through artist residencies.