Arquipélago – a contemporary arts centre for the Azores

The Arquipélago contemporary arts centre in the Azores fosters creation, production and diffusion of art in disciplines including the visual arts, performing arts, multimedia, cinema, music, architecture, design, illustration, literature and fashion. A former alcohol and tobacco factory was redeveloped under an award-winning architectural project to house the centre, which opened in March 2015.

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The Arquipélago contemporary arts centre in the Azores ©ARQUIPÉLAGO The Arquipélago contemporary arts centre in the Azores ©ARQUIPÉLAGO

" Arquipélago aims to promote and consolidate local artistic and cultural identity by integrating it into the global cultural dynamics of contemporary art, providing an exchange of people, events and cultures throughout the Azores, Europe, Africa and America. It also looks to establish inward and outward creative flows that engage artists at regional, national or international level, using different contemporary artistic languages shaped by the territory and natural heritage. "

Fátima Marques Pereira, Director, Arquipélago contemporary arts centre

Conceived of as an art factory, Arquipélago’s architectural design enables it to function as a contemporary arts centre – with workshops, spaces for creation and production during artists’ residencies and for the visual and performing arts – while preserving the building’s industrial character.

In its programmes, Arquipélago emphasises the cross-cutting cultural, social, geopolitical and economic elements of contemporary society and develops appreciation for the landscape and location of the Azores, to sensitise audiences to related issues and forge a connection between art, territory and the environment.

An outermost region of the EU, the Azores’ position in the North Atlantic means they are well-placed to act as a point of convergence for diverse cultures from four geographical regions: the Atlantic islands, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Arquipélago capitalises on this to provide a setting for transatlantic encounters and exchanges between people and cultures.

An educational mission

Arquipélago is dedicated to knowledge development, training, communication and social responsibility. Its calendar of events is designed to raise awareness of contemporary art and culture and encourage creativity and production in the Azores, particularly though multidisciplinary community projects.

Artistic production is stimulated by tools for learning about and understanding contemporary art, leading to the formation of a critical mass of active and creative citizens who can be integrated into the global cultural landscape as producers or spectators. This mission is supported by partnerships with universities and education centres focusing on culture, the humanities, science and technology. Resources and know-how are shared with contemporary arts centres, museums, public archives, libraries and theatres.

Links have been established with the general public and schools in the islands – some of whose students have volunteered at exhibitions – through the organisation of activities promoting consideration of the geography of the Azores and transmitting an awareness of the physical and aesthetic potential of their landscape and identity to the wider community.


From the outset, artist-in-residence programmes have been a key part of Arquipélago’s work and have covered subjects such as cinema, theatre, performance art, visual arts and music. These artists involve the community in their works. The programmes have helped Arquipélago gain national and international recognition as one of the few arts centres in Portugal focusing not only on the exhibition of Portuguese and international artists but also on the creation of contemporary art.

Artists-in-residence develop projects that engage with the territory or the community, or work on concepts that are in line with the centre’s mission and objectives. They develop educational projects and present their work in progress, deconstructing the creative process and bringing them closer to the community –which is particularly important given the remoteness of the Azores.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “ARQUIPÉLAGO - Contemporary Arts Centre” is EUR 12 343 547, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 10 232 091 through the “Azores” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.