In 1996, a group of proactive young people, mostly students of Vilnius Academy, founded a public organization „Alternative Art Center“ (AMC) and the gallery „Galera“. The main goal of this organization was to bring together a community of artists, to create a place for creative young people to implement their ideas and to realize their potential. The main operating base has become a house and a yard near the Vilnelė river, the ruins of nearby buildings and the neighbourhood of Užupis.
Eventually, AMC activity gained the trust and support of the society as well as the city government. In 2002, AMC and Vilnius city municipality established a joint public institution „Užupis Art Incubator“ (UAI). The space of Užupio str. 2 was given to the organization by Vilnius city municipality for uncompensated use. UAI also received a partial funding for the reconstruction and adaptation of the deteriorating building to fit the needs of UAI.
Užupis Art Incubator is the first project of its kind in the Baltic countries. Since 2002, more than 750 Lithuanian developers and over 160 foreign artists from Finland, Georgia, Switzerland, France, Latvia, Russia, USA, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and other countries have been directly involved in UAI projects.
“Insipred by the unique spirit of Užupis, artists formed the artistic community. Their work stands out as overly poetic, that is why the romance of Užupis artists is seen as a form of rebellion against the conventional lifestyle and art. It seems that these artists are just pleased with the Užupis air that surrounds them, peacefully creating art and not really caring about „professional opinions“. I admire their courage to be themselves and ignore the artistic standard that is characteristic to “prestigious” exhibitions and artist groups.” (Dr. Vytautas Tumėnas)