In 1961 a small group of artists organized an outdoor show for Punta Gorda, and an astonishing 3,000 people came. These artists realized they were on to something and began to organize themselves into the Charlotte County Art Guild, Inc. They started with informal meetings, organized more art shows and held art classes in various locations around town including banks, schools and small storefronts. At first members had to be juried into the Guild (an artist had to have a certain amount of experience and skill to be a member). Membership was opened to the general public in the 1970’s.
"The Visual Arts Center galleries, at the Corner of Maud Street and Marion Avenue, across from Fishermen's Village in Downtown Punta Gorda, are always free and open to the public. We invite you to come see for yourself why the Visual Art Center is truly a community gathering place."
Early in the 1980’s artist Henry Lohse led an energetic charge to get a brick-and-mortar Visual Arts Center built in Charlotte County. The Guild secured a long-term lease of Punta Gorda City property at the corner of Maud Street and Marion Avenue. Fred Babcock was the first Patron of the Arts and contributed greatly to the building fund.
The Center was built in phases as money was raised by the community. The Guild received two matching capital grants from the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs in 1985 and 1987. The ground-breaking ceremony occurred in February 1988 and doors officially opened in 1989.
In 2018, the Visual Arts Center partnered with the Patterson Foundation for its Margin & Mission Ignition Initiative, and began construction of a new brick-and-mortar Art & Supply Store to strengthen the Center's entrepreneurial capacity and become sustainable for greater community impact. In addition to Art for sale by Visual Arts Center member artists, art supplies and class kits are available along with VAC logo items, snacks and rental storage lockers for students.
Today we provide the finest art classes, instructors and exhibit opportunities for our members and visitors alike. Courses are designed for all ages and skill levels with a variety of classes and workshops throughout the year.
The Visual Arts Center has ground-level entry with ramped access. The entire facility is wheel chair accessible including restrooms, water fountains, sinks, parking, curbing, main entry and exit. The executive director is the staff member responsible for overseeing accessibility and working with the facilities manager to comply city, state, and federal disability requirements. The director annually evaluates the facility to comply with Section 504, the ADA, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, and the American’s with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. Signage is throughout the building reflective of the universal symbols.