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Arts Market Survey, Kick-off Party Set for Sept. 24

Arkansas Arts Council - Wednesday, September 11, 2019

 

A six-week survey of artists and arts supporters in Central Arkansas will kick off with a free party at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College at 3000 W. Scenic Drive in North Little Rock.

The survey results will be used to analyze the need for affordable living and work spaces for artists.

“Many cities and states nationwide have used artists’ talents and skills to revitalize and strengthen their community identities and economies by offering artists affordable living and work spaces,” said Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council. “This market survey is a tool that gives us the opportunity to come together, relate our needs and find ways to support the arts in new and creative ways.”

Artspace feasibility event, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Little Rock, 2019The survey, led by Artspace, is the latest step toward bringing affordable living and work spaces for artist to Little Rock and North Little Rock. The Little Rock-North Little Rock market survey will be available online at www.artspacerocks.org Sept. 24 through Nov. 5.

The kickoff party is meant to bring artists and others interested in the arts together. The event will include entertainment, refreshments and a complimentary shuttle by Rock Region METRO. The shuttle will pick up attendees at 5 p.m. at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Reservations are required.

The survey follows a public meeting that drew hundreds of people in July. Windgate Foundation, a nonprofit group located in Little Rock, invited Artspace, a nonprofit real estate organization, to conduct a feasibility study and make a presentation July 24.

“Over 250 interested people came to the Feasibility Study kickoff, which shows a passionate interest for this (Artspace) project,” said Patricia Forgy, executive director of Windgate Foundation. “We would love to see even more join us for the Arts Market Survey Kickoff Party.”

The market survey will ask artists, artisans, crafters, arts organizations and creative businesses what “the size and nature of the market for a potential Artspace affordable mixed-use project in the community,” according to a news release.

A similar study, funded through the Walton Family Foundation, was conducted for four proposed Artspace ventures in Northwest Arkansas cities in 2018. A 50-unit artist housing project is moving forward in Bentonville, and Springdale civic leaders are in talks to create Artspace artist housing and community space, Holmes said.

The results of the Central Arkansas survey will help determine the size of and types of needs, according to the release. If the survey identifies a strong market and the community supports moving forward, then the information will be used to create a concept, site selection, design, affordability ranges, programs, amenities and more.

“This information will both tell a story about the depth of the creative economy and inform a potential project for artists and their families, as well as, nonprofit arts organizations and creative businesses,” said Wendy Holmes, senior vice president for consulting and strategic partnerships for Artspace.

Holmes is an expert on equitable community development for creative people and organizations. She will present information about Artspace initiatives in Arkansas during the statewide arts conference, ArtLinks 2019, this October.

In the meantime, an Artspace core group, which includes the Arkansas Arts Council staff and advisory board members, has continued to meet and discuss ideas and concerns. Among the most interesting discussions has been ways to bring together the arts community, said artist Crystal Mercer, a core member. Central Arkansas has a thriving arts communities existing that exist within “silos,” Mercer said. Now, there is “a desire to dismantle the silos and band closer together and bridge, connect and collaborate, she said.

“I believe we are ready to lighten the load and work together,” she added.

Brad Cushman, a gallery director who also worked with the core group, said North Little Rock and Little Rock has “a dynamic and diverse creative community.” The focus group has expanded and strengthened connections, he said.

“There was an eager excitement in the air, and the possibilities presented by Artspace point to a hopeful and optimistic future for the arts in Central Arkansas,” Cushman said.

Moving any Artspace initiative forward will take a mix of community support, Holmes said previously. The key is to have community, nonprofit, business and corporation partnerships, she said.

For more information about the kick-off party or to reserve a seat on the shuttle, contact Mary Kennedy, Artspace Core Group Leader, at 816-309-1939 or at kennedym@hendrix.edu. The arts market survey and information about the Central Arkansas initiative is available online at https://www.artspace.org/ArtspaceRocks. To read more stories about Artspace in Central Arkansas, visit arkansasarts.org/blog.