Former Disney animation building might go digital

thank-you-walt-disneyThe abandoned Kansas City studio where Walt Disney helped pioneer animation could be repurposed to serve digital media.

The Economic Development Administration awarded a $51,000 grant for a feasibility study on redeveloping it as a training center for the city’s growing digital media industry.

The Mid-America Regional Council, which will do the study, reported the grant in its May news publication.

The study will look at how best to use the building near 31st and Troost.

“Design ideas include workforce training space, a business incubator, a museum and lab space to provide an interactive educational experience for visitors that range from neighborhood children to trained professionals,” the ReMarc publication reports.

About 35,000 people work in digital media in the city and that is expected to grow by more than 15 percent by 2022.

The building where Disney worked from 1921 to 1923 fell into severe decline years after his company folded here. By 2009, the non-profit group, “Thank You, Walt Disney” had stabilized the crumbling building, which still needs a use.

thank-you-walt-disney-2Butch Rigby, chairman of Thank You, Walt Disney, said the digital use could include a small museum but “it’s an opportunity to engage in a bigger project and make a much bigger and more productive use of the space.”

The structure decorated by cartoon murals on plywood is popularly known as the Laugh-O-Gram building.

It’s where Disney and his pioneer animators produced nine cartoons called Laugh-O-Grams, but made little money.

By 1922, Disney was living in his office and bathing once a week at Union Station, according to Wikipedia, which also reports:

The next summer he sold his movie camera to get money for a one-way train ticket to Hollywood.

Disney later said a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram studio gave him the idea for Mickey Mouse.

In a 1928 train trip to New York, he said, he showed the mouse drawing to his wife and said he would name him Mortimer Mouse.

Wife Lillian Marie Bounds said that sounded “too sissified” and suggested the name Mickey Mouse.

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