Kansas City has a rich history of art. Take the Plaza Fair for example, a local tradition for the past 83 years. The fair started as a small art show during the Great Depression, and has since become a national attraction, with more than 240 artists from across the country displaying their talents to around 250,000 visitors annually. Over the course of the past few weeks, local and traveling artists with thousands of paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other forms of art were setting up their tents and displays for the big weekend.
The fair takes place at the Country Club Plaza, an area within walking distance of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art which houses work by Degas, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh just to name a few. The iconic outdoor sculptures also make it a well known landmark in Kansas City.
The nationally acclaimed art fair is not the city’s only art showcase. The Kansas City Crossroads Art District is the mecca for local artisans all year round. The Crossroads is much more than just a mere intersection of two streets in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It is a diverse, rich, and welcoming community that is made up of people from all walks of life and represent a diverse spectrum with regards to their art. The area is lined with boutique shops that are filled with unique items created by local artisans and designers – ranging from flowers, shoes, furniture or fashion, and mostly, with local art. The area is home to more than 400 local artists and 100 independent studios, and is one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation. Beyond the galleries, restaurants and storefronts, one will find an equally impressive collection of professional design studios, architectural firms, advertising agencies and other innovative and creative businesses. Some galleries and businesses include The Blue Gallery, Sherry Leedy and Cube at Beco Flowers.
On the first Friday of each month, the district holds a festival of art, aptly named “First Fridays.” The community galleries and restaurants open their doors to guests and visitors alike. Operating out of rundown and disheveled buildings and hip and trendy art galleries and eateries, the area bounded by 15th St., I-35, the Freighthouse District, and Troost Avenue comes alive with art-enthusiast buzz and traffic. 20th and Broadway is the heart of the district. The area also received $1.6 million in tax abatements in 2007, freezing property values at 2006 rates for a decade. This has helped Kansas City reinvent its art scene.
Is there an art movement within your community; how is it supported within your city? Are tax abatements provided, or perhaps other financial incentives to support their sustained growth?
Credits: Images by Martin Seliger and Google Maps. Data linked to sources.