Fill vacant space and make art there: Expert says KC prime for it  

artspace-2Kansas City is a good place to create art studios combined with artist living space, a consultant reported Thursday.

Wendy Holmes, a vice president for Art Space, headquartered in Minneapolis, reported findings of their preliminary feasibility study to the city council.

The next step, she said, is to survey artists to determine the market and “where do the artists want to be?”

Her initial study looked at some possibilities that include the Main Street and Troost Avenue corridors and the 18th and Vine area.

The number of Kansas City artists has grown by a third over the last decade and 6,000 people now identify themselves as artists, she said.

There is no shortage of relatively cheap studio space in the city, she said, but studio and living spaces are not yet on the radar.

Her non-profit company founded in 1979 has done 3,500 projects in 20 states, she said. It specializes in creating such studio living  space, which can give new life to abandoned property and to poor neighborhoods.

She showed a slide of what had been a massive abandoned warehouse building in an abandoned area of St. Paul.

Now it is art living space with a farmers market and a sports stadium nearby, she said, and a light rail line goes right by its door.

“There is an economic impact of creative people,” Holmes said.

Mayor Sly James has repeatedly stressed that and city officials have supported the arts, including the recent hire of a director of cultural services.

One key to making studio living spaces and related development work is support from local leadership, Holmes said. “You have that in spades.”

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