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Umberto "Bert" Crenca

AS220 Founder / Artist

Topic: Social Justice Small Developer

In 1993 AS220 bought a desolate city block and transformed it into a thriving arts and education complex used by more than 50,000 people each year. AS220’s Empire Street establishment is widely recognized as one of the first significant steps in the creation of the Providence Arts and Entertainment District. Now in its 32nd year, AS220 serves as an international model for access, equity, sustainability, and community development in the non-profit arts world.


Umberto ‘Bert’ Crenca is an artist and the founder of AS220, Rhode Island’s unjuried, uncensored, all-ages home for the arts located in Providence, Rhode Island. AS220 is home to community-driven art galleries and performance spaces, a fabrication lab, a printshop, a media lab, a dance studio, a bar and restaurant, and an award-winning youth program. AS220’s buildings are all mixed use/mixed income and offer affordable housing to over 50 artists.  Bert has been internationally recognized for his work with AS220, sharing best practices with organizations as far away as New Zealand, Taiwan, Ukraine, Estonia and Kuwait.  Notably, Bert recently received honorary doctorate degrees from Brown University and Roger Williams University for his commitment to community development, creating opportunity for artists, and the revitalization of downtown Providence.  Bert has also served on transition boards for the last three Mayors of Providence, the Providence School Board, the Providence Downtown Improvement District (DID) Board, and the Advisory Board for the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau.  As a visual artist, performance artist, and musician, Bert’s works and performances have been exhibited globally in galleries and on stages including the Galleria Del Corso in Latina, Italy; La Galeria Matadero in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the RISD Museum in Providence; the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island; and the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.