Ann Schnake founded ArtsChange in 1996 in Richmond, California and worked there for 14 years in a variety of capacities from executive director, to lead artist, social navigator and cook. The original venue for ArtsChange was a county health center in Richmond, serving over 7,000 patients per month. Richmond was then the third most violent city in the United States suffering from chronic unemployment, marginalization stress and poverty. Hundreds of Bay Area artists, health care workers and patients built exhibitions, installions, diialogues, giant community meals and performative works specifically designed for this community.
The hundreds of projects of ArtsChange engaged patients, staff and artists in deciphering topics from violence to race to the obesity epidemic. ArtsChange used a process of building conversations and evolving shared community narratives as the basis for installion works which were brought to life by artists such as Tareneh Hemami, Rene Yanez, Ruth Morgan, Kim Anno and EG Chricton. Later works, from a traveling puppet shows to youth projects, traveled to a range of community venues.
ArtsChange incorporated as a non- profit in 2005 and closed its doors in 2013. The archives of the almost 20 years of work make up a 300 piece permanent exhibition at the new West County Health Center in San Pablo, spanning the entire building.