Creating a Suburban Cultural Hub in the Metropolitan Kansas City Region (Part 2)
As I mentioned in a previous post, The Arts Council of Johnson County (ACJC) held a series of forums in 2010 for arts educators, organizations, and artists to gain a better understanding of how to support their work in the community. These ended up being the impetus for ACJC’s new website and solidified our role as a connector; a hub for the arts in our community.
The forums also introduced us to Nicole Emanuel, an artist and community developer, and inspired a partnership between Nicole, ACJC, and the Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park that would become the InterUrban ArtHouse.
The brainchild of Nicole, the ArtHouse project’s initial inspiration came from her need for studio space close to home.
Through her research we confirmed that many artists living in suburban Johnson County felt disconnected from each other and from the Crossroads Arts District in downtown Kansas City. Armed with this information Nicole’s vision for the project grew exponentially; the ArtHouse would be a gathering place for artists, a catalyst for small business developmen,t and a critical link to the greater regional arts community.
Providing stable affordable studios for artists, offices for arts-related nonprofits, and an exhibition space, the ArtHouse would also house a dedicated classroom for professional development workshops emphasizing business development for artists.
Almost as important as the building itself the classroom fosters a link between suburban artists and regional resources like the Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, KCArtists Link, and the small business development centers at University of Missouri-Kansas City and Johnson County Community College. With support from the Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park, Nicole has applied for an ArtPlace America grant to fund the first phase of the project.
The location of the project in Downtown Overland Park, a walk-able neighborhood recently rezoned for mixed use development and home to many galleries, boutiques, and locally-owned restaurants, provides a built in customer-base for artists working and exhibiting in the ArtHouse. It also supports the city’s Visioning Plan.
The InterUrban ArtHouse is an important addition to Johnson County’s arts profile, fostering a synergy among artists, organizations, and small business.
For the Arts Council of Johnson County, it s a key partnership that will help us develop a stronger relationship with the arts community and better support an increasingly vibrant suburban arts sector while also cultivating a stronger regional arts community.