Casa de Fado performs at Prairie Logic, 7/23

prairielogicCaso de Fado
Wednesday, July 23
5:30 to  8:30 p.m.

On the garage green rooftop north of Cosentino’s Downtown Market
Free and open to the public (space is limited)

Casa de Fado will perform at Prairie Logic, the public art installation on the sixth floor parking garage roof just north of Cosentino’s Downtown Market (south of 12th Street, between Main and Walnut). Prairie Logic is an award winning public artwork by Janet Zweig and el dorado inc located on the sixth floor of the green roof atop the parking garage. In addition to the artwork—a modified red box car situated amidst indigenous prairie grasses, Prairie Logic also serves as a performance stage for an intimate audience experience. This summer will see three performances by three different local artists.

Casa de Fado will transform the boxcar stage into a Portuguese taberna where Fado is performed. Fado is folk music infused with longing and melancholy, and characterized by mournful melodies and lyrics. Fado, which means fate, is powerful music, and will be performed by three guitarists and various guest vocalists. www.ensembleiberica.org

Please note: Because this is an outdoor venue, all performances are weather permitting. When possible, performances cancelled due to weather will be rescheduled at a later date. Check the Prairie Logic Facebook page for more information, www.facebook.com/PrairieLogic.

Art in the Loop Closing Reception, July 24

Art in the Loop and the Downtown Council will host a reception at The Box Gallery on Thursday, July 24, from 4:30 to 6:30.  The exhibition “Art in the Loop Celebrating Ten Years of Revitalizing Downtown KC with Public Art” closes on Friday July 25.

Why is public art important to Downtown Kansas City? How do local projects help emerging artists? The exhibition at the Box Gallery answers these questions and explains the detailed process of site-specific public art commissions –uncovering the complexity of the projects and the creativity of the artists involved. The exhibition includes a display of artist sketches, project photographs, site plans, sculpture models and materials. The show also includes a new video about Art in the Loop’s program through the voices of local artists and the foundation. A new walking tour map of public art in the Downtown Loop is also available.

Over the past decade Art in the Loop has partnered with a large number of local businesses, non-profits, foundations, arts organizations — and commissioned the following artists and architects: Cortney Andrews, Julia Cole, Marcus Cain, Laura DeAngelis, Dominique Davison, Dylan Mortimer, Amy Myers, Leigh Rosser, Ross Sawyers, Ascot Smith, Sean Starowitz, Jamie Warren, Davin Watne, and Allan Winkler.

As Art in the Loop moves into its second decade the mission of the organization continues to focus on commissioning permanent public art, however, the organization is also introducing temporary projects that invite artists to activity engage the community with temporary visual art installations and performances, or “creative placemaking.”

The program will include an acknowledgement of the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s support for public art, a guided walking tour of Art in the Loop installations (weather permitting)and announcement of the first round of artists for Downtown Street Art/Creative Placemaking Project which will take place in areas throughout the center of Downtown later this summer and fall.

Refreshments, wine and beer, will be provided.

Please RSVP by Monday July 21  at https://artintheloop.eventbrite.com or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org.

Public Art Walking Tours Start on July 8

PostcardJoin Art in the Loop for a series of public art tours in Downtown Kansas City!

The tours will be led by local artists and highlight installations commissioned by Art in the Loop. This will be a unique opportunity to hear directly from the artist about the complexities of the projects and the artistic vision behind the installations. All tours will start at 12 p.m., and are free and open to the public.

  • July 8, Jessica Borusky (curator, 2014 Downtown Creative Placemaking Project)
  • July 9, Sean Starowitz (artist, Fresh Bread)
  • July 15, Julia Cole (artist, The Commons at Baltimore Alley with Leigh Rosser)
  • July 17, Davin Watne (artist, Uplifted Arms with Dylan Mortimer)

Details • Tours will start at The Box Gallery, 1000 Walnut, Suite 211, which is currently showing “Art in the Loop: Celebrating 10 years of Revitalizing Downtown with Public Art.”

  •  Tours will leave promptly at 12 p.m. – come a few minutes early to pick up a map and view the exhibition.
  •   Tours will end by 12:45.
  •  Attendance is limited to 20 people

Please RSVP to Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org www.artintheloop.com facebook.com/artintheloop

Guitars in the Park returns to Downtown on Sunday evening

Guitars in the Park, the summer performance series by the Kansas City Guitar Society, will return to Oppenstein Park in Downtown Kansas City this Sunday evening.

The free performance is set for 7-8 p.m. Sunday at the Downtown pocket park at 12th & Walnut. The public is invited. Be sure to bring lawn chairs and your own refreshments.

Featured performers on Sunday will be Beau Bledsoe with Michael McClintock, guitarists. They will perform Cuban, Portuguese and Spanish music.

Bledsoe’s performances have been described as “…hot as a raging fire” by Drew Minter Opera News and “pointedly musical” by Paul Horsley,  The Kansas City Star. This stylistically diverse musician is equally comfortable on the concert stages of Europe and Russia as he is in the flamenco tablaos of Spain. He regularly performs and records with some of the greatest artists in Tango, Flamenco and classical music as he seeks to integrate different musical cultures with diverse audiences.

Beau studied classical guitar at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance under Douglas Niedt, associate professor, where he received a Master of Music. There he continued his professional career in the fertile ground of the Kansas City music scene playing with jazz musicians, classical chamber musicians, and also participating in the burgeoning Latin music scene. 

McClintock studied classical guitar at the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Douglas Niedt where he obtained a Bachelor of Music in guitar performance and acted as president of the UMKC Guitarists.

After his studies, McClintock continued to seek opportunities to expand his knowledge of different musical cultures from around the world through intensive study of Flamenco and Latin American music. Michael has performed as a classical and flamenco guitarist throughout the United States and has performed several times in Kansas City at venues such as Starlight Theater and the Lyric Opera.

Now in its third season in Downtown, Guitars in the Park will return to Oppenstein Park for performances in July and August. Those dates will be announced soon.

For more information on Guitars in the Park, contact Neidt at niedtd@umkc.edu.

Art in the Loop Celebrates Public Art in Downtown Kansas City

httpv://youtu.be/mZhaL7r3-RA

Nearly 100 people visited The Box Gallery on Friday, June 6, to view the art exhibition “Art in the Loop: 10-Years of Revitalizing Downtown KC with Public Art”.  The exhibition takes a new look at the organizations’ successful projects and reveals their plans for the future.

Why is public art important to Downtown Kansas City?  How do local projects help emerging artists?  The exhibition answers these questions and explains the detailed process of site-specific public art commissions –uncovering the complexity of the projects and the creativity of the artists involved.  The exhibition includes a display of artist sketches, project photographs, site plans, sculpture models and materials.

The show also includes a new video about Art in the Loop’s program through the voices of local artists and the foundation.  A new walking tour map of public art in the Downtown Loop is provided free.

For more information about Art in the Loop, visit www.facebook.com/artintheloop or contact Ann Holliday, program director, ann@downtownkc.org.

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Prairie Logic Concert Series Kicks Off with Paul Rudy on Wed., 6/18

This summer and fall, three performances will take place at Prairie Logic, the public art installation on the sixth floor parking garage roof just north of Cosentino’s Downtown Market (south of 12th Street, between Main and Walnut) The award winning artwork by Janet Zweig and el dorado inc is located on the green roof atop the parking garage. In addition to the artwork—a modified red box car situated amidst indigenous prairie grasses, Prairie Logic also serves as a performance stage for an intimate audience experience. This summer will see three performances by three very different local artists.
The first performance, by Paul Rudy, will be held on June 18 between 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. Rudy is an internationally recognized composer and professor of composition and coordinator of composition studies at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. He has held Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, and has won numerous prestigious awards. Rudy and guest planetary gong artist Heidi Svoboda will bring the sounds of the prairie to the center of Kansas City. Audience participants are encouraged to download sounds to mobile devices (link below), to help create a prairie soundscape during the performance, which culminates in a prairie storm
Wednesday, June 18
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
On the garage green rooftop north of Cosentino’s Downtown Market
Free and open to the public (space is limited)
Please note:
  • No audience seating is available. The audience area is an intimate open gravel plaza designed for standing. Bring your folding chair if you want to sit.
  • You can download sounds to your mobile device and participate at the performance: https://soundcloud.com/rudyp/sets/prairie-logic-sounds
  • Because this is an outdoor venue, all performances are weather permitting. When possible, performances cancelled due to weather will be rescheduled at a later date. Check the Prairie Logic Facebook page for more information, www.facebook.com/PrairieLogic.
  • Parking is available in the garage with automobile entry from either Walnut or Main Street between 12th and 13th Streets (first 30 minutes free; $1.00 per 20 minutes after, $15 max). Pedestrians will find elevator entry at 1271 Main Street.

Art in the Loop exhibition set to open in The Box Gallery

“Art in the Loop: Celebrating Ten Years of Revitalizing Downtown KC with Public Art” is a new art exhibit that takes a new look at the organization’s successful projects and reveals its plans for the future.

The exhibition opens at 11:30 a.m. Friday and runs through July 25 at The Box Gallery, 1000 Walnut, in the Commerce Arcade.

Why is public art important to Downtown Kansas City?

How do local projects help emerging artists?

The exhibition will answer these questions and explain the detailed process of site-specific public art commissions –uncovering the complexity of the projects and the creativity of the artists involved.  The exhibition will include a display of artist sketches, project photographs, site plans, sculpture models and materials.  The show also includes a new video about Art in the Loop’s program through the voices of local artists and the foundation.  A new walking tour map of public art in the Downtown Loop will be provided free.

Founded in 2004, Art in the Loop is an established 501c3 nonprofit arts organization recognized for commissioning outdoor public art for Downtown Kansas City.  The organization’s strength stems from its unique partnership with three prominent Kansas City entities, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Kansas City Municipal Art Commission and the Downtown Council of Kansas City.  Common ground is found in a shared belief that the development of the downtown area and enhancing the cultural life of our city are directly linked.

Over the past decade Art in the Loop has partnered with a large number of local businesses, non-profits, foundations, arts organizations — and commissioned the following artists and architects:  Cortney Andrews, Alejandro Aptilon, Marcus Cain, Julia Cole, Dominique Davison, Laura DeAngelis, Rachelle Gardner, Dylan Mortimer, Amy Myers, Leigh Rosser, Ross Sawyers, Ascot Smith, Sean Starowitz, Jamie Warren, Davin Watne, and Allan Winkler.

As Art in the Loop moves into its second decade the mission of the organization continues to focus on commissioning permanent public art; however, the organization is also introducing temporary projects that invite artists to activity engage the community with temporary visual art installations and performances, or “creative placemaking.”

The exhibition opens on Friday and will run through Friday, July 25.  There is an opening reception event on First Friday, June 6th from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (free and open to the public).  The gallery’s regular open hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Box Gallery is an 830-sq.-ft space that presents rotating exhibitions, often by partnering with local artists, collectors, universities, and cultural arts organizations.  Its mission is to serve a downtown audience of residents, workers, and visitors, with exhibitions that will enliven, enlighten and engage.  www.theboxgallery.org

For more information, please contact The Box Gallery director Robin Trafton by calling 816-760-7885, or email TheBoxGallery@towerproperties.com.  For more information on Art in the Loop Foundation, please contact Ann Holliday at the Downtown Council of Kansas City, 816-979-1072 or visit www.artintheloopcom.

 

UMKC’s Downtown Arts Campus Takes Big Leap Forward

Downtown and the University of Missouri-Kansas City together will take a major step forward today with the announcement that land has been acquired for a new UMKC Conservatory campus.

That step came at 8 a.m. Monday morning, as leaders from UMKC, the City of Kansas City, Missouri and the Downtown Council gather at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to take the leap together. The Kansas City Star published the following editorial about this milestone moment in Sunday’s edition.

Now comes the harder part: raising $21 million in private donations over the next two years — adding to $27 million already counted — to leverage a hoped-for $48 million match from the state of Missouri to build the project.

As reported in The Star on Sunday, private donors have committed $6 million to buy a full block’s worth of properties from four owners just south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For good reasons, leaders say that’s the ideal spot for a new complex that would house the Conservatory of Music and Dance, the first phase of the university’s long-range vision for a downtown arts campus.

As Chancellor Leo Morton and conservatory dean Peter Witte point out, the close proximity to the Kauffman Center will create endless learning opportunities for conservatory students and will help expand partnerships with schools and the city’s performing arts organizations. All that can be a major selling point in the effort to attract new students.

For another, the site — bounded by 17th and 18th streets, Central Avenue to Broadway — bridges the Kauffman Center and the Crossroads Arts District, contributing to that neighborhood’s identity as a creative melting pot connecting the arts, technology and entrepreneurship.

Rendering of the new recital space at the proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts.

Rendering of the recital space at the proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts.

Julia Irene Kauffman jump-started the university’s fundraising for this project nearly a year ago when she issued a $20 million challenge grant from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, the principal funder of the Kauffman Center. An anonymous donor has pledged $1 million. Morton and Witte have been awaiting a site plan and plausible renderings to help hone their pitch to other potential benefactors. That work begins in earnest now.

Highlighting one growing aspect of the conservatory’s mission, Witte told The Star, “Noting that our jazz program could be on 18th Street is pretty intoxicating.” The implication, of course, is that the school can make new connections to the historic heart of Kansas City’s jazz legacy about a mile to the east.

University officials have traveled to and researched geographical alignments of music schools and professional concert halls in New York, Boston and even tiny Columbus, Ga., to make their case for academic and civic synergy. It makes a lot of sense, and it’s gratifying that city officials and business groups such as the Downtown Council have bought into the concept in a large way.

Donors and others will naturally have questions about the value of the concept and details yet to be determined. Morton is particularly persuasive that UMKC’s role as an arts center for the university system will be heightened by the downtown campus and that all students, not just those in the conservatory, will benefit from their exposure to arts education. And those with a stake in the growth of downtown have long championed the idea that a concentrated influx of hundreds of young people will add energy to the area and enrich the urban fabric.

Like the rising sounds of a Beethoven symphony, this project, one of the Chamber of Commerce’s “Big Five” civic priorities, is gathering steam. Morton is optimistic that the necessary private funds will be found and that Missouri lawmakers will follow through with a match under the two-year-old 50-50 plan. Harmony is certainly in order.

Downtown site proposed for UMKC Conservatory

In what is being hailed as a critical boost toward moving the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to Downtown Kansas City, supporters have obtained an entire city block immediately south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kansas City Star reported the news on Sunday. Reporter Kevin Collison wrote:

The acquisition of the block southeast of 17th Street and Broadway by anonymous donors, a “group of angels” according to university officials, is a key real estate accomplishment for the project. But it will also help with the completion of fundraising.

 

UMKC officials say that between the $6 million donation of the land and the previous major pledges, they’ve raised $27 million toward a goal of $48 million in private donations. At that point, the university will ask state lawmakers to come through with matching funds for the $96 million conservatory plan.

“The next set of donors want to see what they’re buying here, what they’re investing in,” said Leo Morton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “This will move this project forward.”

A formal announcement of the block that was purchased is scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday morning at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The eventual move of the conservatory and its 620 students and 110 faculty to the site is also considered a strategic opportunity to further redevelopment in the Crossroads Arts District, and to reinforce the connection between the central business district and Crown Center, a longtime goal of downtown advocates.

“I know of no more strategic corner that we could be able to put together,” said Phil Kirk Jr., former chairman of DST Realty and an urban strategist who helped assemble the site.

“It took a group of donors, interested in the arts and education, willing to step forward to make this possible.”

Supporters of relocating the conservatory next to the Kauffman Center believe it would be a great artistic marriage. They point to a similar relationship between the Juilliard School and Lincoln Center in New York, and the New England Conservatory and Jordan Hall in Boston.

“That’s the ecosystem students will create their careers in,” said Peter Witte, dean of the conservatory.

Sean O’Byrne of the Downtown Council, which also helped assemble the property, pointed out that students at the conservatory will have a clear view of the grand glass atrium of the Kauffman Center.

“Students will be actually able to look up to this shiny icon on the hill and know someday they will be performing there,” he said.

The proposed relocation of the conservatory, first reported by The Star three years ago, received its initial major donation a year ago when the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, led by Julia Irene Kauffman, announced a $20 million challenge pledge. It joined a previous $1 million anonymous donation.

At the time the challenge pledge was made, however, two locations were being considered for the conservatory, both near the Kauffman Center, and no additional donations have been announced since then.

UMKC officials believe having a site identified and acquired will galvanize fundraising. The clock also is ticking on the Kauffman challenge, which has a three-year deadline.

“We’ve had a number of conversations with potential donors,” Morton said. “To have a solid site and eventually renderings will help us advance the cause.”

Assembling the block for the conservatory proved relatively easy, according to O’Byrne and Kirk.

The four property owners were amenable to selling, particularly because of its intended use. The properties are a building at 1701 Broadway, a school formerly operated by the Guadalupe Center at 1711 Broadway, a building at 315 W. 17th St. and a building at 1711 Central St.

“In my 20 years of commercial real estate, I’ve never been involved in such a wonderful transaction,” O’Byrne said. “Everybody was reasonable.”

The plan calls for the existing buildings, none of which is historically significant, to be demolished and replaced with a 190,000-square-foot conservatory building. The low-rise structure would include classroom and rehearsal space.

An architect has not been chosen, although Helix Architecture & Design has assisted in the planning.

The block will be controlled by an entity established by the Downtown Council called Block 4 Acquisitions. It would be transferred to UMKC once the university obtains the necessary funding. If the conservatory plan falls through, the buildings would still be cleared and the site made available for other development.

Another big advantage of the block chosen for the proposed conservatory is ample, nearby parking. It’s across 17th Street from the 1,000-space parking garage built by the city for the Kauffman Center.

City officials say the Arts District Garage is mostly empty when there are no performances. It is open to the public — and students — for $3 daily during day hours and $55 per month.

Opportunities also exist for development and redevelopment, including potential housing for students.

The block acquired for the conservatory borders a community garden and environmental showcase to the south called 18Broadway. The space was established by DST Realty in 2010 on the site of a proposed highrise condominium. After that project failed, DST essentially put the land on hold as a green oasis until another development opportunity arose.

Kirk said that DST land could be ultimately developed for future phases of what UMKC is calling its Downtown Campus of the Arts, or other associated development.

Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center, described the acquisition of the property as an “exponential” move for the conservatory proposal.

“Not only does it benefit that project but it sparks creativity for all the areas around it, including the performing arts center,” she said.

In 2011, the state approved legislation intended to match private dollars for university capital improvement projects, but no money has been allocated.

“I don’t see this funding path being more difficult than other projects,” Morton said. “It is up to us to get the private money in place.”

Public ARTwall is now serving FRESH BREAD

The Art in the Loop Foundation‘s new ARTwall was installed on Thursday, May 8, the on the south side of the Town Pavilion Garage at 13th & Grand.

The 2014 ARTwall entitled FRESH BREAD  by Sean Starowitz captures a moment in the artist’s community based art project also entitled FRESH BREAD.

In the words of the artist:

To “break bread” has come to symbolize sitting with someone, conversing, and understanding one another. In other words, FRESH BREAD isn’t just about selling fresh bread, but creating and facilitating a space to converse about our city.

FRESH BREAD activates the streets, un-used spaces, and diverse communities by popping up and creating an accessible, inviting environment that audiences can participate in. FRESH BREAD is a project that is a “pop-up” bakery that utilizes abandoned, unused urban spaces and/or vacant lots around the Kansas City metro area.

In KC, there are over 12,000 abandoned properties, and the areas with the highest concentrations of these abandoned properties also happen to be food deserts.  By popping up in some of these areas, FRESH BREAD will draw attention to these problems while putting high-quality bread directly into people’s hands.

Starowitz is a local artist and is the artist-in-residence at the Farm To Market Bread Company who was recently named a 2014 Charlotte Street Foundation Visual Art Award Fellow . He is a 2010 graduate of the Interdisciplinary Arts program at the Kansas City Art Institute and a 2012 Rocket Grant recipient. For more information about the artist, please visit his website: http://seanstarowitz.com/.

The ARTwall, a custom-designed billboard structure, designed for super-sized art rather than advertisements provides an opportunity for artist engagement in the revitalization of Downtown Kansas City. The permanent structure exhibits contemporary art produced as large-scale digital prints.

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and with the generous support of Copaken Brooks, LLC.

For more information about the ARTwall or Art in the Loop Foundation, contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org.

Millennials discover Downtown KC a friendly place to be

You can find them where there’s live music, trendy food, an affordable home and a friendly environment where they feel they can make a difference.

And in some very encouraging ways, both statistically and in the mysterious world of “buzz,” the Kansas City area is holding its own when it comes to appealing to the hot demographic called millennials. A study recently ranked us among the top 20 big U.S. metros when it came to adding young adults, according to a recent story in The Kansas City Star.

It’s not just about being hip. Attracting those people born roughly between 1982 and 2004 is considered vital to the metro’s economic future.

Reporter Kevin Collison’s story went on to say:

Just recently, MindMixer, an Omaha Web-hosting firm, announced it was moving to the Crossroads Arts District and creating 85 jobs, citing the area’s urban vibe and pool of tech-savvy people.

To help further that favorable impression, the Kansas City Area Development Council launched a talent recruitment initiative to help local companies sell the area to young potential employees.

Among its tactics is a scavenger hunt aimed at getting summer interns — brought to the area by big local corporations such as Hallmark, Cerner and Garmin — off the couch and discovering the charms of places including Brookside, Westport and the River Market.

Having more young people around also makes this a better place to live for all generations.

Mayor Sly James, whose streetcar push is particularly appealing to the millennials’ affinity for urban living, said keeping and adding that age group to the local mix was a formula for a better future.

“The value and importance is that these are the people who’ll be energizing us,” he said. “We need that creative, young class to keep us sharp and keep us on the edge as we rapidly change.”

When it comes to hard numbers, the area ranked 14th among the nation’s 51 metros with populations over a million when it came to adding young adults, according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution.

The Kansas City metro had an annual net gain of about 2,200 people in the 25 to 34 age group during the three-year period from 2009 to 2012. Though far below red-hot places such as Denver, which added almost 12,000 young adults each year, it ranked ahead of Atlanta, New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

The area also is doing well in the online universe of social media, that place where buzz is generated and many younger adults pick up their impression of places.

Travel + Leisure named Kansas City the 10th best city for hipsters in the nation — ahead of Seattle, Boston and Minneapolis — while the Huffington Post included the area among “20 Awesome U.S. Cities You Need to Visit in Your 20s” and Vocativ ranked us 21st among the “35 Best U.S. Cities for People Under 35.”

That’s not surprising to Chel O’Reilly, who grew up in New England and lived in Brooklyn — considered hipster-central by many of her generation — for a year before coming here.

“I came to Kansas City three years ago to visit two friends for four days and when I left, I had a job offer,” O’Reilly said. “The music is great, and the camaraderie and friendly people here are great.… I find it to be very welcoming.”

At age 35, O’Reilly considers herself on the cusp of the millennial generation, but she shares the interests often cited by young adults when it comes to where she wants to live.

“I love it that there’s a great art scene in Kansas City, the Charlotte Street Foundation and First Friday is amazing,” she said. “These are things I like to show off to people.”

One of the bigger draws listed by Vocativ, which bills itself as a “take-no-prisoners” online news source, was Kansas City’s affordability. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment here was $710, making the city the eighth cheapest place to live among the 35 cities that made the hipster list.

Adding to the inexpensive allure, Vocativ also found the seventh largest number of vintage clothing stores per capita here.

Living somewhere you can devote more time to your passions and less to paying rent is what appealed to Francisco Alarcon, a 31-year-old native of Spain.

He moved here last fall from Los Angeles after graduating from architecture school to work as a sports architect at Populous, but is an artist in his spare time.

“I was hesitant about the art scene here and I asked my friends in LA who told me Kansas City has one of the best art scenes in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s also cheap to live here.

“Making money in the creative world is a struggle. If you live in a city like New York, your rent is super-high. You don’t have the time to write or paint because you have to worry about paying the rent.”

Another architect colleague at Populous, Geoff Cheong, hails from Vancouver. After graduating from architecture school in British Columbia in 2007, he was invited by Populous to come to Kansas City for an interview.

“I didn’t know where Kansas City was,” the 30-year-old said. “On my first plane into town I was expecting the Wizard of Oz, wheat fields and tornadoes. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was lush and green and there was water.”

Cheong’s first home was a downtown loft, and he quickly discovered Kansas City was no Vancouver when it came to urban living. One of the missing ingredients was mass transit.

But with a car, Cheong enjoyed the ease of getting around the area. He now lives in a suburban apartment complex at Interstate 435 and Roe Avenue.

“I enjoyed slowing things down a little,” he said. “The (low) cost of living also was huge. Kansas City blows other cities out of the water.”

And in a surprising twist for a Canadian, he actually has more opportunities to play hockey here than he did in his hometown.

“It’s more affordable and there’s more rink time available,” he said. “I meet other Canadian transplants at hockey rinks.… I’ve lived here 6½ years now and I think that’s a credit to Kansas City.

“My friends in Vancouver ask when I’m moving back and I say I’m not.”

Alarcon also has found a welcoming place.

“I have a group of international expats and also artists,” he said. “It’s very diverse culturally and for me, it’s been very good.”

O’Reilly, the New England transplant, says its easy for millennials to find an “instant community” in Kansas City.

“Kansas City is rich with a lot of good people who open their arms to let more people in,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s a closed city.

“The tech and start-up community is fantastic, Google Fiber did a good job kick-starting that, and the Kauffman Center’s 1 Million Cups program is now in 32 cities.”

O’Reilly also belongs to a group of about two dozen younger adults who call themselves “Possum Trot,” an early historic name for the area. They include newcomers to the city as well as natives who gather regularly to socialize, discuss the city and invite speakers.

“It’s not an agenda-driven organization; it’s really about what’s happening in the city,” said Havis Wright, coordinator for the group. “It’s about familiarizing people who are new to the city and reacquainting people who’ve left and come back.”

Among those returnees involved in Possum Trot is Kathleen Bole.

The 25-year-old grew up in Prairie Village but left for graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2011. Bole also did internships in Washington and Chicago, so she knows a bit about what’s going on elsewhere in the nation.

“I packed my bags and moved East and didn’t think I’d come back,” she said.

But after graduating with a master’s degree in city planning in 2013, she began to think more fondly of her hometown.

“Kansas City doesn’t have a lot of things other cities have in the way of walkability and transit, but I like the work-life balance you can have here, which you don’t have as much on the coasts,” Bole said.

“Living in Philadelphia, I realized a young professional just coming out of school was not the easiest way of life, and you have a better quality of life here.

“A friend from D.C. visited me last night and she was astonished at how pretty it was, how nice it was and how cheap everything is.”

One of the biggest challenges facing Kansas City when it comes to attracting millennials is its an unknown quantity to most people around the country, Marcusse said.

“They think it’s a cow town or flyover place,” he said.

“A lot just don’t have a perception of Kansas City, and you’re starting from ground zero. Once they’ve been here, they fall in love. It’s just getting them here.”

Using the theme of “America’s Creative Crossroads” (KCCreativeCrossroads.com), the organization has developed marketing materials, both online videos and printed, aimed at appealing to millennials.

Attributes included the city’s music scene, restaurants and food trucks, the appeal of professoinal soccer with Sporting Kansas City, the tech scene and Google Fiber and, of course, the relatively low cost of living here.

One of the more fun initiatives is the scavenger hunt launched last year.

About 1,000 summer interns participated. Each received a booklet listing 11 areas of the metro from greater downtown and midtown, to southern Johnson County and the Village West area of western Wyandotte County.

Five different attractions were listed for each area, and participants were invited to find them, take photos and post them on Facebook to score points. Prizes were awarded based on the places explored.

“The idea was to give them an opportunity to see the city,” Marcusse said. “If they just stayed in their apartment, they may not know the city when it was time to think about a job.”

Looking forward, while Kansas City has done reasonably well attracting millennials, those interviewed agreed the community could do a much better job if it had more walkable neighborhoods and mass transit.

“I think the streetcar is a huge thing,” Bole said. “Knowing it was on the horizon meant a lot to me.

“I’m also someone who loves to walk and I’m used to walking a mile or more. Here, there’s so many dead zones which makes it feel less appealing.”

To liven things up at the street level, the Downtown Council has embraced what’s called “tactical urbanism.” It’s intended to be a low-cost way to show the possibilities of making the city a more enjoyable and engaging place.

For example, in 2012 design students from Kansas State University used inexpensive materials to temporarily transformed two blocks of Grand Boulevard into a narrower, more attractive street with wide sidewalks, landscaping and sidewalk cafes. The idea was to offer a glimpse at how a more liveable street could be created.

Mike Hurd, marketing director for the Downtown Council, said the new tactical urbanism being pursued by his organization is designed to create a downtown “eco-system” for millennials.

“What we find with millennials is a desire to see more activity on the streets and public spaces on an ongoing basis, not just big event nights,” he said.

This summer, the Downtown Council is planning on holding noontime events twice a month at Oppenstein Park at 12th and Walnut streets with food trucks and entertainment.

A plan also is evolving to hold monthly free concerts in the Crossroads Arts District on a Friday evening other than First Friday, the popular art gallery event.

Dave Scott, chairman of the tactical urbanism program, said the emphasis is on inexpensive ideas to improve the urban environment.

“We’ll win the battle if it’s a good place to live and work, and it’s fun and unpredictable,” he said.

The major reinvestments in making downtown more appealable plus the positive social media buzz has helped companies recruit new talent.

Bob White, director of international marketing at Populous, said his firm is finding it much easier these days thanks to the improvements that have occurred in the city.

“Ten or 15 years ago, it was extremely difficult for us to recruit young people,” he said. “It was frustrating for us and it was based on ignorance and things they had heard about Kansas City and the Midwest from other people.

“That’s flipped the last six or seven years. There is a groundswell, an undercurrent of young people, making this happen. People are less resistant and more open-minded.

“They’re saying ‘yes, I’ve heard there’s good things happening in Kansas City,’ hearing it from their peers that’s it’s worth a second look.

“We’re delighted by it.”

Join us for the 2013 ARTwall installation celebration on Aug. 30

Join the Art in the Loop Foundation for a fun night of bowling and camaraderie as we celebrate the 2013 ARTwall artist Jaimie Warren. Light refreshments and one drink ticket per person will be provided.

Reception Details:

Friday, Aug. 30
5 to 7 p.m.
Z-Strike Bowling
1370 Grand Boulevard

To register, click here.

Jaimie’s artwork entitled “Self-Portrait as a Woman in Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon/Deceptions by Momma Bird” is currently displayed on the ARTwall on the south side of the Town Pavilion Garage at 13th and Main. For more information about Jaimie, the ARTwall and the Art in the Loop Foundation, download the fact sheet.

Financial assistance for the ARTwall has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, with the generous support of Copaken Brooks, LLC and the H&R Block Foundation.

More questions? Contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org or 816-979-1072.