AVA Gallery and Art Center (Alliance for the Visual Arts), established in 1973, is committed to the support and promotion of New Hampshire and Vermont artists through exhibitions, information and special opportunities, and to foster public awareness and exposure to the visual arts through classes, scholarships, special events, lectures, films and publications. AVA is centrally located in the middle of Lebanon (in the old H.W. Carter overall factory) and easily reached by visitors from all parts of New Hampshire, Vermont, and beyond. An extensive building renovation in 2006-2007 resulted in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by the US Green Building Council.
While AVA today occupies almost 20,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the 11 Bank Street building, in 1973–when a handful of Upper Valley artists decided to look for a place to show their work–its first location was in a barn.
AVA’s main programs fall into two categories: exhibitions and art classes. The exhibitions range from shows by carefully selected local and regional artists to group exhibitions, including community related shows such as presentations of works by students from local schools.
Since AVA’s move in 1990 from Hanover to Lebanon, the organization has seen a steady increase in the number of artists, students and general visitors who have traveled considerable distances to participate in or attend our programs. Annually, AVA presents more than 30 exhibitions, and offers around 200 classes and workshops. Every year, approximately 400 artists participate in our exhibitions, and around 1200 students enroll in our classes, 500 of whom are children and teens. Between 40 and 50 scholarships are awarded annually. Additionally, AVA offers numerous free or low-cost programs for people of all ages and abilities, including the popular CAOS (Community Arts Open Studio) offered on Saturdays during the school-year.
Throughout these 40 years AVA has received consistent support from the community, ranging from financial contributions to volunteer hours. Volunteers contribute more than 3000 hours per year to AVA. This involvement is really a testament to what many see as AVA’s intrinsic value to surrounding communities. AVA continues to successfully offer opportunities for artists in the region and to increase public awareness of the importance of the visual arts.