Kansas City Artists Coalition’s first location in 1975
How can the artist benefit from centralization? For decades Kansas City has been asking this question. It was a question that was posed at the very beginning of the Kansas City Artists Coalition (KCAC or Artists Coalition) when it was founded in 1975.
The initial answer to this question was an alternative to isolation, elitism, apathy and ignorance. Thus, in the mid-70s, KCAC began to advocate for professional venues for local artists and mount exhibitions in empty commercial spaces that gave local collectors and art enthusiasts access to local talent. Then, in the 1980s, Kansas City saw the birth of several new galleries, including KCAC’s own gallery, which was located in the River Market. These venues worked to retain the artists and creatives that were matriculating to either coast. In this capacity, centralization provided an anchor point for artists and reason to stay in Kansas City.
How can the artist benefit from centralization? The Crossroads Arts district is another example of centralization serving the Kansas City art community. First Fridays in Kansas City began in the 1990s, when art galleries in the Crossroads decided to host art openings on the same night. It was a concentrated effort to attract a crowd to the Crossroads at a time when downtown was a ghost town after 5:00. Since then, the First Friday phenomenon has grown significantly beyond its initial focus on the visual arts and gallery scene. This example of centralization has been studied by other municipalities as a way to revitalize and develop their cities and hometowns.
How can the artist benefit from centralization? Now in its 47th year, that question is still valid as the Kansas City arts scene continues to grow and is home to numerous arts-related organizations and institutions. In each iteration, the answer to this question seems to be rooted in community; coming together to solve a problem, address a need, fulfill a desire, have greater impact, share resources, advocate for one another and so on.
Again, how can the artist benefit from centralization? It is a question that KCAC will continue to ask and seek out the answer. As a community’s needs, wants and desires continuously change throughout the decades, the Kansas City Artists Coalition remains an inclusive grassroots community organization that promotes the arts in the region and seeks to support artists at every level.