An arts advocate in Kansas City hopes to partner with one of the metro’s leading community coworking spaces to create a haven for nearly 1,300 art entrepreneurs.
GUILDit announced Thursday plans to develop an art village within Plexpod Westport Commons — featuring coworking, studios, a theater, and gallery — with a goal to rebuild art and culture in the city while strengthening its economy, said Susana Bruhn, founder and executive director of GUILDit.
“The arts have had great growth in Kansas City, and we can do it again. In just a few years, with a few key moves, artists can take off again,” she said.
To fully fund the three-year effort, GUILDit aims to raise $155,715, which would fund artists’ fellowships for coworking spaces, studios, and the gallery; art nonprofit sponsorships for dance studios and the theatre; and build-out of the visual studios and gallery equipment, Bruhn said.
The project offers artists prime workspace locations, coaching, reduced rates, and opportunities to expand their businesses and earn recognition within the community, she added.
“As soon as we get a $5,000 donation (from a corporation or major donor) we can implement the smallest project of the village: eight coworking spaces for artists of all disciplines (poets, animators, digital artists, script writers, etc.),” Bruhn said. “Plus, we will use this to seek more donor and foundation contributions, thus joining the community interest in the project.”
Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities and project details.
Plexpod’s Westport Commons location — once Westport Junior High School — already houses a theater company, filmmakers, dance studios, historic theatre, shared photo studio, and shared podcast booth, Bruhn noted.
The coworking community is a critical partner for GUILDit, an organization that educates artists on best business practices to increase their financial success, she said, adding that the nonprofit arts advocate will not be exclusively based at Plexpod.
GUILDit currently organizes events throughout the city — notably at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art — and covers five Kansas City-area counties. Bruhn also helps to manage the coworking space at the Nonprofit Village at 31w31 in Midtown.
Click here to explore GUILDit.
Help for the arts is needed now, she emphasized, pointing to a 2020 report by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce that said the arts — out of 24 industries examined — had “the greatest downturn and will have the longest recovery.”
Project partner City in Motion Dance, a 35-year-old Kansas City nonprofit, is a prime example, Bruhn said. By mid-2020, CIM Dance lost all its revenue, laying off all 30 employees.
“These dance artists and instructors are just one of the groups involved in the project,” she continued. “They have recently moved back into their Plexpod studios and the project offers them more sponsorship, so they can stay in the studios.”
In addition to artists directly benefiting from the village, Bruhn projects 63,350 students and audience members in the Kansas City metro would be engaged, she said.
“These cultural events bring visitors to Kansas City, attract new business and their employees to the area, as well as the theaters and galleries becoming a destination for residents again,” Bruhn said.
Watch a video featuring GUILDit success stories below.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.