Glenn E. Stephenson

The Plaza Art Fair boosts the economy, too

Updated: 2013-09-10T03:08:16Z

By Glenn E. Stephenson

Special to The Star

Annually for the past 15 years, it has been energizing for Highwoods Properties and our retail partners to welcome a quarter of a million people to the Plaza Art Fair. This year the beloved event will run from Sept. 20 to 22.

This annual tradition, first held 81 years ago, kicks off fall and is a great opportunity for our community to share summer vacation stories, see old friends and peruse the works of 240 artists from across the country, including many fine artists from the Kansas City area.

We are proud and excited to embrace this event, one of the largest art fairs in the country and one of the most popular among artists, given that more than 1,400 apply to exhibit each year. The economic impact to our city is tremendous. It is estimated that purchases in the artists’ booths alone will top $2 million in three days. Add in the substantial increase in business for Plaza retailers, restaurants and hotels, which in some cases double or triple their usual weekend business, and the economic impact becomes even more profound.

More important than dollars and cents, though, is the immeasurable effect of the fair and the Plaza on the livability and appeal of Kansas City.

For example, it’s no secret that Kansas City has a well-deserved and growing national reputation for its art scene. We are confident that is true at least in part because Plaza Art Fair exhibitors praise Kansas City and its art community to their colleagues, patrons and friends as they travel nationwide. The same is true for the musical artists and performing arts organizations participating at the Plaza Art Fair all weekend.

For these and many more reasons, we at Highwoods always understand the importance of the Plaza to the local and regional economy. Our commitment to the Country Club Plaza not only fulfills the vision of Plaza founder J.C. Nichols but also sets the stage for a vibrant and exciting future. Local and national companies regularly ask to be part of our many Plaza traditions created by the Kansas City spirit.

We are committed to meeting the needs of these retail, office, residential, dining and entertainment businesses. More important, though, is that we remain staunchly committed to sustaining the Plaza as a Kansas City community resource.

We can do nothing less after we browse the Plaza Art Fair and see the smiling faces of friends greeting friends, artists sharing their collections, and families creating memories.

As we mark the 15th anniversary of our local investment, we never forget that we are stewards of Kansas City’s crown jewel. We look forward to welcoming everyone, local and from out of town, next weekend and always.

Glenn E. Stephenson is Kansas City vice president of Highwoods Properties, a real estate investment trust that owns the Country Club Plaza.

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