Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 7:16AM
Engage the artists
By John Beaudoin
Now that the Lee’s Summit City Council has finally put the pieces together on an April no-tax increase bond issue for cultural arts and improvements to a few streets in town, it’s time to think about the future of Arnold Hall.
While I still want to complain about this historic site being left off the ballot, I won’t. Or maybe I just did. But I won’t do it again.
The new plan for Arnold Hall is now to find some money within the city to “white box” the building.
A “white box” concept would turn the empty building on Third Street across from City Hall into a shared visual artist space for shows and displays and could even be used for small theater or musical performances.
Of course, the money, as always, is getting in the way again.
How will Arnold Hall sustain itself in this white box environment? If our city leaders can identify the initial $240,000 to transform Arnold Hall, who will cover operating costs in the future?
Those are all questions our city council should be asking actual artists, those in the trenches that are living and breathing art every single day.
We have those types of artists in Lee’s Summit and around the Kansas City area that would utilize a space such as this. But we need to ask these artists what they would use in such a space and what they would find of value before we ever move forward with this process.
Poor Arnold Hall has been bounced around enough.
We have civic and artistic-minded leaders – Councilman Allan Gray among them – along with a cultural arts task force and an Arts Council with many artistic minds around Lee’s Summit to help us with this process.
And, we have the people living art every single day. People like Ben Martin of the Summit Theatre Group and professional artist Tina Garrett.
Art is a way of life for these folks and many others in that arena.
It is our job to make sure we are engaging those types of people before we get a firm plan together on Arnold Hall.