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Nicole Emanuel, InterUrban ArtHouse, photo by Cameron Gee

Who You Should Know: Nicole Emanuel of InterUrban ArtHouse

InterUrban ArtHouse supports area artists and their careers.

Meet Nicole Emanuel (she's the one on the far right), founder and executive director of InterUrban ArtHouse, one of our Resource Partners that helps artists ramp up their careers and their networks.

Below, she shares why and how she traded a lonely basement studio for a buzzing community space and developed it into the InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park, Kansas. And be sure to check out their new series of events, starting September 10.

Well, first of all, I am a painter, a community artist who needs to be around people to feel real. Sort of like Velveteen Rabbit . . . not exactly, but it was that need that drove me to this madness.

If all I wanted was an art studio around other artists, why would I dream up a fantastical place where other artists could have space, start a nonprofit and become its executive director?

From basement art studio to buzzing arts center

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a city girl who found herself alone, in the basement, in the suburbs. Her only studio companions were her washer and dryer.

While driving in the night, she spied an empty industrial building that cried out, “Save me, I am abandoned.” It was then the girl understood. She was not alone. Many other artists felt lonely in the suburbs.

Connecting the creative crossroads

The cool thing about this area is its history. Downtown Overland Park is where the historic Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails crossed. It is also where the area’s first air shows were flown, in an Aviation Pavilion that attracted audiences as large as 30,000 people. It’s the home of the first self-propelled gas-electric train in the world – the Strang Line InterUrban – that brought all those people here to see spectacular air displays.

The historical link—where the old InterUrban Strang Line ran between Kansas City, Missouri, and Historic Overland Park, Kansas—inspired the creation of InterUrban ArtHouse.

The old InterUrban Line pathway has been replaced by a concentrated swath of arts venues, cultural organizations and creative businesses in the region, branded: “America’s Creative Crossroads.” This arts corridor runs the old InterUrban route between the Crossroads Arts and Power and Light Districts in Missouri across the state line into Kansas. InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) further develops that “cultural commute” along an historic intermetropolitan path between the urban core and Johnson County, Kansas.

Creative placemaking and the InterUrban ArtHouse

InterUrban ArtHouse’s mission is to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the surrounding community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment. It embodies the principles of creative placemaking by placing artists and culture at the center of the organization.

In the evolving field of creative placemaking, the power of the arts, culture and creativity are leveraged to serve the community. Success depends on collaboration between various civic stakeholders, including local governmental entities, private investors, other nonprofits, artists and civic groups. Partnerships and shared leadership are critical to harness the power of the arts to heighten quality of life and revitalize buildings, neighborhoods and cities. It cultivates connections between people and place, including cultural districts, mixed-use development, municipal cultural planning, creative industries, public art, community art and urban design.

Established in late 2012 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) is creating a new hub for arts and culture in Kansas. It is a community arts organization that supports artists and creative industries by creating space for artists to work in, providing programs to develop artistic and business skills and offering greater connections within the local and regional arts community.

Five-pronged (creative) focus

Our community-wide survey identified five program categories and the need for an art studio center. These are the five strands, now growing and providing for artists at InterUrban ArtHouse:

  • ArtWorks focuses on professional development and small business skills for artists and creative industries
  • ArtMatters supports studio excellence through technical and artistic development
  • ArtsConnect connects artists with each other and with the wider community through public events, meetings and collaborative programs
  • ArtSmart takes artists into local elementary schools to provide mentoring and arts education
  • ArtHeals works with art therapists to offer unique arts experiences that support healing for the emotionally at-risk and developmentally disabled

Along with programming and supporting artists in a temporary facility, IUAH is working to develop a multi-use community arts and cultural center in Downtown Historic Overland Park, a regional hub within the Kansas City Metropolitan area and an important resource for the wider community.

Ready for more?

Contact InterUrban ArtHouseand be sure to check out their new series of events, starting September 10

From starving to thriving, artists can find resources to help advance their careers through InterUrban ArtHouse and other KCSourceLink Resource Partners.

Give us a call at 816-235-6500. Or hop over to our Resource Navigator 24/7 and select “Arts” under “Industry” and filter by your area of assistance, specific need, business stage and/or zip code. We’ll give you a list of the right resources for your business and arts career.

Photo by Lauren McGill.

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