Filling the need: local nonprofit makes supplies more accessible to artists

Broad Room has served over 800 people with their Free Art Supply Closet


Dominique Williams

Broad Room founder Claire Curley shows what supplies the Free Art Supply Closet has in stock Dec. 8, 2022. The Free Art Supply Closet has served over 800 people since its implementation.

Dominique Williams, Managing Editor

A woody aroma fills the air as volunteers sort through paint brushes and old books to restock the shelves in a white brick room.

Studio tenants here know the term “starving artist” all too well. 

“Being able to make and enjoy art makes life worth living,” Broad Room founder Claire Curley said.

Broad Room is a nonprofit arts organization founded in 2018 that sits on Del Paso Boulevard and houses a Free Art Supply Closet along with rentable art studio space at an affordable price.

The Free Art Supply Closet was started in 2020 and has since served over 800 people who have made appointments to “shop” for new and gently used supplies. Those supplies are donated by artists and other community members, according to Curley.

“We just launched our Free Art Cart program, which is an extension of the Free Art Supply Closet,” Curley said. “[It] delivers free art supplies from the Free Art Supply Closet to folks in Sacramento with limited mobility issues who otherwise wouldn’t be able to come in.”


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The Free Art Supply Closet at Broad Room Dec. 8, 2022. The closet stores new and gently used supplies donated by artists and other community members. (Dominique Williams)


Board member Cay Wren said she has been with Broad Room since October 2019, when the core of the organization was artist-led workshops, events and exhibitions.

“I was [involved with Broad Room] accidentally at the very beginning,” Wren said, adding that Broad Room is part of the reason she went to grad school. “I really liked what they were doing and I liked the idea of community-based programming. I didn’t want to make the art anymore, but I still want to be around that and I want to facilitate it as much as possible.”

Wren said the board acts as a support system for Curley, giving her advice, venting space and help with accounting. 

“For so long, it was all Claire,” Wren said. “Our main goal was supporting her and also making decisions so that she wasn’t working in a silo.”

Curley said artists visited the Free Art Supply Closet to pick up house paint for new murals that were recently painted on Santa Clara hall at Sacramento State as part of the university’s Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan.

She also said there are a couple of Sacramento State students that rent booths at Broad Room, one of whom is a ceramic screen printer. Curley said being a college student is expensive enough without having to buy brand new art supplies and believes the Free Art Supply Closet helps to lessen some of those expenses.

“I’d love to have more Sac State students come through,” Curley said. “Even [those] that aren’t in the arts department.”

Sacramento artist Elena Perez said she and a number of friends have visited Broad Room to get art supplies for personal use and for Sacramento Goblin Market, which Perez runs. 

“I’ve gotten a bunch of different things: marbled paper, paint, spools of thread,” Perez said. “I do mixed media work, so my art needs are pretty eclectic, which makes it a great place.”


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Paint and other supplies in the Free Art Supply Closet at Broad Room Dec. 8, 2022. The closet has a wide variety of supplies including old canvases, fabric, yarn and magazines to cut up.
(Dominique Williams)


After moving to Sacramento from Seattle, Nicole Koss, an alchemy and mixed media artist, said while she was in Rip City she fell in love with her local ReCreative, an organization that resembles Broad Room. 

Koss said she found Broad Room when she was searching for a place like ReCreative and has both used supplies from and donated supplies to the closet.

“I will thrift and buy lots of different materials and supplies for my own art,” Koss said. “My last donation was a box full of fabric, a loom, an electric pencil sharpener, an old spirograph set in a tin metal case, brushes that I had duplicates of and paint.”

The donations are sorted through, labeled, organized and stocked by volunteers.  

Sacramento area community college student Karma Goode said they started volunteering during the mornings at Broad Room in September after they found the organization on Instagram.

Goode said they felt connected to Broad Room after seeing a post of the front of the warehouse with a mural that says “Art is a Human Right,” adding that is something they firmly believe.


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Founded in 2018, Broad Room sits on the 1400 block of Del Paso Boulevard in Sacramento. The Free Art Supply Closet has served over 800 Sacramento residents since its implementation in 2020.
(Dominique Williams)


“Claire is very kind and caring,” Goode said. “When you have something to share or suggest, she always listens with an open heart.”

Goode said morning shift volunteers like them help make the art supplies ready for appointed pick  up, while afternoon shift volunteers greet the guests and receive donations. 

Aside from art tools, Broad Room also supplies free menstrual products in the closet, Koss said.

“There have been times when I was really low on cash and even took some free tampons,” Koss said. “Free of judgment.” 

Nonprofits like Broad Room help to reduce the number of material sacrifices artists have to make in order for their career or hobby to be sustainable.

“It definitely fills a need because the disparity between passion and payment can be pretty severe,” Wren said.