After five years, Overland Park’s steadfast community art space has acquired a new home and now finds one of its crucial goals in the rearview mirror, with many more ahead.
Chief operating officer Angi Hejduk and executive director Nicole Emanuel, who founded InterUrban ArtHouse in 2011, have secured a permanent home for the nonprofit in the former post office at 8010 Conser St., across from the former church basement they’ve been using.
Following years of fundraising efforts, the ArtHouse purchased the building debt-free Nov. 1, but Hejduk and Emanuel estimate that around $400,000 of construction work remains. Things like restrooms, railings and handicap-accessible entries are first on the list. They say they’ll take care of enough work to meet building codes so they can host a grand opening March 2, even if renovation is not fully complete. The opening will consist of a TEDxOverland Park talk, an “America’s Creative Crossroads” exhibit with work from local photographer Cameron Gee and a cocktail party.
“The new building will have a classroom, a gallery exhibit space, a dozen studios, a coffee shop and a community porch,” Hejduk said. “Our role is to be one of the creative hubs in the area that share the common responsibility of advocating for the arts, providing space and being the place where local community artists can do their work and participate in cultural activity.”
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Emanuel said the group wanted to own property because she expects that several new construction projects in downtown Overland Park will bring rents up.
For now, the ArtHouse will retain its current 8001 Conser rental property across the street.
“We have that rental space for another year, and we’ll keep it as long as the demand is there and the affordability is there,” she said.
The current property houses a dozen studios and 14 creative professionals in a variety of disciplines, including art therapists, painters, fiber artists, muralists, historians and landscape architects. The center of the space is used for classes for amateurs and professionals.
The ArtHouse has five projects: ArtSmart, a public school education program; ArtHeals, run by licensed art therapists who help individuals with emotional, physical or developmental challenges; ArtsConnect, focusing on work done in the region; ArtWorks, an entrepreneurial small-business program to guide working artists; and ArtMatters, studio classes centered on art creation.
“We need support, so we are appealing to our community to assist us in raising the funds that we need to renovate this property,” Emanuel said.
To make a donation to the InterUrban ArtHouse, visit InterurbanArtHouse.org.