Transforming Community Through Art: A Conversation with Englewood Arts

hawkins@growyourgiving.org Individual & Family Giving

“There wasn’t any federal or state or city involvement that was going to change the face of this community. It’s happened through community members and then philanthropy. So it’s this partnership between community and donors and I think it’s been tremendous. And some of those donors being right inside Englewood. I feel very confident that Englewood is going to be transformed into a sustainable, very livable community. So I feel really good about the direction this is going.” – Michael Baxley, Executive Director of Englewood Arts

In the heart of Independence, Missouri, nestled among historic homes and tree-lined streets dating back to the 1800s, is a four-block stretch of Winner Road looking to reinvent itself. Once known as Englewood Station, a street car brought Kansas Citians to and from the bustling retail, residential and entertainment district, where Garth Brooks and Walt Disney started their careers.

The Englewood Arts District is now taking steps to bring life to this area once again, attracting new home buyers, artists of all trades, nonprofit organizations and community investment.

Michael Baxley and Teresa Dorsch, representatives from Englewood Arts, share how the nonprofit organization is taking steps to revitalize the historic neighborhood and keep art at the forefront of the community.


Listen to the Conversation


About Michael Baxley

Michael Baxley

Michael Baxley, executive director of Englewood Arts, has been a working artist and arts advocate for over 20 years. Prior to coming to Englewood Michael was a director for the Belger Arts Center for more than eight years as he helped develop their second location called the Belger Crane Yard Studios. His current role involves renovating a 30,000-square-foot former medical building into a community-based arts center and developing affordable and sustainable housing for artists and community members.

 

 

 

 

 

About Teresa Dorsch

Teresa Dorsch

Teresa Dorsch is the Director of Arts for Englewood Arts and currently serves as the President of the Englewood Business Association. Teresa is a sculptor and painter whose current work focuses on portraits of people and animals. She earned a BSE in Art Education K-12 from UCM and since then has worked as a business manager while living in different cities – including Savannah, Georgia, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis. In 2006, Teresa moved back to Independence, where she became involved with volunteering for nonprofits that focus on serving the local community. Her passion for art, education, and community has led her to become an integral part of the Englewood Arts team and support its mission.

 

 

 

 

 


Episode Transcription

Whitney Hosty:
Welcome to the Grow Your Giving podcast, powered by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. We’re excited to bring you conversations featuring experts in philanthropy, share impactful stories happening in the Kansas City community, elevating the voices of those making a difference around the metro. I’m Whitney Hosty, a senior philanthropic advisor at the Community Foundation and your host of this episode. Today you’ll hear a conversation with two representatives from Englewood Arts, a 501c3 nonprofit organization focused on the revitalization of the Englewood Arts District in the heart of Independence, Missouri. Michael Baxley, executive director and Teresa Dorsch, Director of Arts, are joining me today to share about the history of Englewood, how art is transforming the community, and the type of commitment it takes to make a transformation of this sort a reality. Michael and Teresa, thank you so much for joining me today.

Michael Baxley:
Thank you. Good morning.

Teresa Dorsch:
Good morning. Thank you.

Whitney Hosty:
Well, I think we’ll just jump right in. I’d love to know a little bit more about the history of the Englewood area. If you could tell us more about the history and what does it look like today?

Michael Baxley:
Sure. I’ll be happy to take this or start this off, and then Teresa wants to build on that, she can jump in too. But as far as Englewood goes, for people that are familiar with KC Metro in the greater metropolitan area, a lot of people are surprised that they haven’t stumbled upon Englewood. And for those that have, are sometimes surprised to hear about the history. And so to give a little bit of background, a lot of people, especially younger people, are surprised to learn that there was a street car that would take folks from downtown where it was thriving and most businesses were conducted there to the suburbs. And that’s where Brookside Neighborhood was built up from. A lot of people are familiar because they still walk the tracks that once led from downtown to Brookside. But Brookside was built up and Englewood, which is considered Western independence, but is still inside the city limits of Independence, Missouri. So it’s considered Independence, but Englewood was another neighborhood that was built up through this trolley track system.

And so back in those days, you would jump on the trolley and ride out to your home either in Brookside or Englewood, and these neighborhoods were built up around that idea. And then in the 1960s, roughly, they started taking out that trolley system. And from there, the neighborhoods that were serviced by the trolley that were more closer to downtown or more woven into the metropolitan, I think continued to thrive and do just fine. But it Englewood being in Independence and one of the longer stretches of the tracks, it was more difficult for people to make that commute out. And so from there, it just cut off part of at Western Independence from the downtown. And over the past 40 years, there’s been just a slow decline of the neighborhood.

When you look at Englewood Business District, you’ll see an old theater, you’ll see a cafe, and other really great small businesses, the, what I say, Route 66 Americana feel. And those are dying, just as Route 66 itself suffered when I70 and the major interstates were put in, the similar thing happen with the trolley tracks. So for Englewood, the folks got together and they really want to see a community improvement. Because in the last 40 years, there hasn’t been one new home build or there’s only been one new home build. There’s over 200 vacant lots, and the neighborhood of Englewood is defined currently as a 3,900 home community. So it’s has a large footprint, larger than most neighborhoods.

And so, such a large area, beautiful homes, a variety of homes, different architectural styles, different square footage, some very small homes all the way down to 700 or less square feet, and some that are massive, which are closer to 3000 square feet. So you have this whole variety of homes, you have a variety of people that live there. And what is happening now is they’re trying to have a resurgence through a grassroots effort. And that’s ultimately how our nonprofit got started, which I can talk about later. But Englewood itself is this really throwback to that lost America, Americana, Main Street USA. And I think what people in what Western Independence and the metro area are looking is to see this area get revitalized, but keep the character of Englewood.

Whitney Hosty:
Thanks, Michael. For those listening, can you set the scene a little bit further? I know you mentioned a little bit about the variety of homes in the neighborhood, but can you tell us a little bit more about that neighborhood and how community investment plays a role in this project’s development?

Teresa Dorsch:
I can hop in and talk about this. I actually live in Englewood, so I know the community very well. So the community, Michael touched upon the housing, but it’s a very neat, diverse community. And the arts started playing a part about 15 years ago within this community. There were members that got together and started looking at the decline and saying, “How can we bring some of this energy back into the area?” And they saw what was happening in other parts of the US as far as arts making or creating an energetic and positive environment for growth in densifying an area while keeping character within that area, hopefully, and creating walkable neighborhoods. So the community actually started getting together in meetings and really started taking a look at how can arts play, within this area, a major role in creating energy and excitement and bringing some of the businesses and foot traffic back into this district.

So the arts district was zoned, probably, Michael, you might know this, but maybe about I would say 12 years ago. So the business district is already zoned an arts district through this city and started getting together and saying, “How can we continue that movement and bringing that energy in?” So that’s how Englewood Arts was formed. And I know Michael touched a little bit more on that. But it’s neat to see that within the initiative of Englewood Arts, it’s very much a grassroots movement from the community, about the community and bringing some vitality and energy back into the area. And Michael, you might want to hop in and share a little bit more.

Michael Baxley:
Well, I think you covered it quite well. I think that the thing to try to draw on the visual is you have a small business district. It’s a main thoroughfare that’s right in the center of a large rectangle. So if you think about Englewood is a map, you’re imagining a large rectangle, and the business district conveniently runs right through the middle of this rectangle. And you have a whole myriad of businesses. You have a wonderful restaurant by the name of Vivilore, that is a fine dining restaurant, and they are similar to what the Bluebird Bistro was to the west side. They moved in and brought and elevated the area with some fine dining and were the first kids on the block to really make a major commitment and renovation.

But then there’s been long term businesses that have been there for some time that are really unique. And the Three Trails Trading company that has all different beads and necklaces and jewelry and even lamp work, glass classes, just a variety of things. And then there’s Frannie Franks world’s famous coffee cakes. And so you’ve got some really unique fun boutique businesses, but then you also have vacant lots and vacant storefronts. So there’s room to grow, and I think all of the businesses see that a rising tide raises all ships. So they’re wanting some of these vacant business storefronts to be filled with other unique, artful, but also just sometimes useful, businesses that serve the public and the community.

Teresa Dorsch:
And what’s also fun about the business district that he’s speaking of is since it’s zoned an arts district, a lot of the businesses have definitely embraced that. So you might go, there’s the massage therapy business right through the thoroughfare and they have a gallery up front and there’s a property management business that has a gallery. There’s a salon B-Vogue that plays a major role in community activities and then also has a gallery and takes those proceeds and pays it back to the community. So there’s a variety of businesses, but they also like to play with the fact that this is an art district and embrace that and create something artful within their business also.

Whitney Hosty:
Right. I love seeing that, just walking through the neighborhood, and I’ve been out a few times over the last year and it’s just so neat to see the arts infused through everything. I was also struck during my visits, how much it’s changed, especially over the last year, how much progress has been made in some of the construction and renovation projects. Can you talk a little bit more, even specifically, about the Englewood Arts Center and what’s happened to date and what are the plans for immediate longer term?

Michael Baxley:
So to set the scene a little bit, the Englewood Business District, as we talked about, one of the largest elephants in the room was this three story, large brick, 30,000 square foot, former medical building that had gone vacant. It had a six foot hole in the roof, all the windows, which it’s a medical building, so there was 90 windows, all the windows were broken out and taken out. So you had this shell of the former medical building, and in Englewood, most of the businesses, because of the zoning, the largest building is a two story building. So this is one story larger than the largest, the tallest building in Englewood. So it actually is very noticeable because of it’s one story taller than everything else.

And so it was very much an eye story. You’ve got this huge brick shell and people are getting in there when they shouldn’t be getting in there. And it was a nuisance to the public. And the city ultimately took possession of this building, and then they were holding onto it hopeful that something really special would come along. And they were running out of time. And fortunately, through this grassroots effort of a group called Grow, which is Grassroots of Western Independence, this group got together and said, boy, we should really expand the arts. And seeing what happened in the crossroads, maybe we could form a nonprofit that would convert this medical building into an arts center and encourage more art growth to the area as well as look at housing opportunities too.

So very long story short, that’s how Englewood Arts was formed in 2019, was to tackle this large former medical building that had been pretty much gutted, In fact, worse than gutted. They started gutting it, but they didn’t remove any of the debris. So all the walls had been destroyed, but they were all still remaining in the building. So in 2019, we had the city voted unanimously to sell us the building, and we just formed this new nonprofit with no money in the bank and we started fundraising. We at that time put together a budget and a self sustaining plan so we could be self sustaining in three years through different activities. And so we put a really good framework and a plan and a budget, and in a campaign of $2 million and we were out the door and we were off running in February of 2020. And we were fortunate to the first two foundations we approach, one being the Dunn Family Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation both made gifts. And so we were really excited to have both of those names associated with our project and we were very confidently moving forward.

The thing that was shocking was the thing that happened the next two months that we didn’t anticipate was a pandemic in the United States to the scale we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. And so we had to make the decision at that point in March and April of 2020, do we continue to fundraise and move forward with this idea or do we stop and wait till this pandemic clears? And thank goodness we didn’t. We were encouraged by many local organizations and donors to keep going. We had a local resident that lives in Englewood that had been saving up her money in an account for a rainy day, and she had $50,000. And she goes, ” I’ve been saving this for when it feels right and this feels right to me.” And so she really wanted to see this transformation.

And then the Rotary Club of Independence named us the recipient of their annual fundraiser. And we had to do a virtual event. It was a mardi gras, and they raised over $370,000 for Englewood Arts. So we started getting strong signals, not just from people talking, but people actually putting their money in and investing and saying, “Well, I know it’s a pandemic, but this isn’t going to last forever. And we love that there’s something positive coming to the area and we want to invest in the future.” And so we continued to fundraise through the pandemic.
Which is interesting because one of the key players in this whole activity was a gentleman by the name of Monty Short, who’s from Englewood and has a background in construction. And Monty was volunteering his time, certainly with the Grow Group, but he said it was really his idea to say, “Well, let’s turn this community center into, or this medical center into a community arts center”. And Tony Jones from the Kansas Art Institute and Jose Faus, and many other people well known in the arts community came out and they said the same thing, “This building is perfect for a community arts center.”

And so we were really off and running despite the pandemic. And we started noticing people were losing their jobs because of the pandemic, especially artists. And so being an arts organization where they were reaching out to us and conveniently we had the need for labor. So we started hiring artists and community members that live in the area that weren’t able to get employment. And we started cleaning out over 150 tons of debris from the building. And so all the way through 2020 and then 2021, as we were fundraising, we were doing a… We’d fundraise a little and do a little renovation, fundraise a little and do renovation. And to date, that’s exactly what we’re still doing. I think to give an update specifically about the building, the hardest, most expensive work has been done.

Fortunately we had another person with a background in construction come aboard, and that’s Preston Rothwell and Rothwell Construction. And they came aboard and then another major organization called M&M Commercial Painting in Blue Springs and helping on the painting side. And Sherwin Williams has donated all of our paint in kind. So we started getting tremendous in kind help from local businesses that is specifically are in construction. And that really boosted our campaign as well. And we wouldn’t be where we’re at today if it weren’t for these groups all coming together. It wasn’t just one of them, it was all of them. And I think it was one beginning another. Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal gave us a brand new roof in a, They solicited the materials for that roof from Division 7 Sales, which is another local company. So we’ve had many, many donors that were doing in kind work too. And we count in kind in our campaign because if we can take that line item out of our budget, for us it’s as good as cash.

And what we’ve noticed is the quality of the work that we’re getting done on the renovation of the building is far superior than what we anticipate. I think a lot of people as donors, they don’t want to just donate the canned lima beans. They’re giving us the turkey dinner donation instead. So they’re wanting to make sure that they’re not just donating some castoff materials they want give us the best. And so we have Sherwin Williams Paint, we have Derbigum roof, we have name brand products going into our building. So it’s been really tremendous.

And where we’re at specifically to date is we’ve raised over 2.6 million, which obviously exceeds that number that I gave you earlier. Of course, probably the biggest impact we’ve had from COVID is the cost of materials and the scope of our project is also increased. So we’ve had some great opportunities that have come to us through another huge in kind, which is Bernstein-Rein, the marketing group in Kansas City, they were actually one of the first to come aboard and say that they would help with our marketing, but they’ve designed all of our marketing pieces to date and those that come out to Englewood, will eventually see a huge 40 foot sign that’ll be over 60 feet in the air on top of our building that was designed through this team that was assembled by Bernstein-Rain. That’ll not just brand the art center, but it brands all of Englewood. So it’s hearkens the Hollywood sign, but it says Englewood and it’s trailed by neon that says “Where arts lives.” So I’m going to stop there and I think Teresa might have some things to fill in.

Teresa Dorsch:
Yeah.

Michael Baxley:
So go ahead, Teresa.

Teresa Dorsch:
We are opening in phases, and one of the positive experiences we’ve had throughout this project is the fact that the City of Independence has been working as a partner really to help this happen and to help us work towards our goals. So they were willing and open to that idea for us to open the building in phases, in the art center in phases. And within those phases will be opening different studio areas. So on the first floor there’s the three different main focuses, and we will build out one area and then move to the next. And that gives us the ability to continue to renovate while we’re fundraising rather than waiting for all the funding to come in and then start working towards renovating the building. So it allows us to open a little bit earlier than we probably would be able to had we done it in another form of fundraising and renovating.

So that is important to mention. And he had also brought up the fact that we had met with community members and artists and it’s important to mention again that this is a grassroot effort and we want it to be very much for the community and about the community. So from the get go we’ve been having, we’ve conducted meetings with artists, community members, local businesses, and then also regional artists and business members, civic leaders, to see what their thoughts are on this project and what we could offer to artists and visitors alike that come into the building. And so the areas we decided to open in the building are very much reflected upon that feedback. And so we do have three focuses. We have performing arts, culinary arts, and visual arts. The main level will definitely show all three of those. But we are happy to say that with the art studios that we will have in the building and the art forms that are represented are art forms that are really filling the gaps in the region.

So for instance, the first area that is going to open and hopefully soon will be our glassblowing studio. And I always like to say, and this is important to mention, that with the glassblowing studio and the other studios within this building, it’s about offering different levels of artists to come in and experience and grow their art form, but also for the public to come in, the community members to come in and try their hand at that art form and experience it in a new way that potentially they may not have been able to. So I don’t know, Michael, if you want to build on that any, I just wanted to share that yes, we are opening in phases. The city has been a wonderful partner in that and we’ll continue to do that throughout the year as we continue to move forward with fundraising.

Whitney Hosty:
Wonderful. Thank you so much for the update. I just love hearing the stories of the residents and businesses in the community and broader metro area coming together and being such an influential part of the project. It’s so exciting to hear that. I know that sense of community and resources for the artists have been an important part throughout the project too. And I’d love to hear a little bit more if you could touch on maybe the housing component of your work and of the project. Or maybe is there, if there’s a story of an artist who’s been involved on the housing front that you might be able to share.

Michael Baxley:
Yeah, so actually, and I’m glad you asked this question about housing because, and an artist, because there’s a couple things I want to touch on. Is the Englewood Business District, as Teresa mentioned earlier, has been rezoned and so it’s zoned as an arts district. No other area in Kansas City, metropolitan area actually has true arts district zoning. And so there’s some things that come with that where it brings an arts theme to the business district area. It limits what type of businesses that can move in, typically the ones that bring a community down like a payday loan types business, those are not allowed within the zoning. And so this zoning was written to encourage businesses that are community friendly and discourage ones that detract from a community.

And from there, another zoning was written that deals with the 3,900 home area outside of the business district. So if we go out from the middle of this rectangle, we’re going all the way to all the edges and it’s an overlay zoning. And that overlay lays on top of the existing zoning, that if there’s a conflict, that overlay takes precedence. And that zoning was written with the community committee, Teresa’s has actually been one of the biggest authors of it. But we’ve also gotten help from partners at Gould Evans, which is now called Multistudio, and there’s a gentleman there, Dennis Strait, who is a major community activist and really helpful, but also the City of Independence has been helping. So this zoning that’s been written is interesting because a lot of times zoning is used as a tool for developers to implement what they want. And this time it’s used as a tool by community members and a community member driven nonprofit to deploy tools that are helpful and to see the type of development that community members want.

And without getting really deep into the zoning, the zoning’s been written and is going to vote be voted on this year through the City of Independence. We suspect it’ll be well received because again, that it was authored by community members, city and other activists that are community minded. So we don’t anticipate a problem with this passing. But we continue to have town hall meetings to get voices of the community members so we can get as many things in the zoning and get it right the first time.

And so the key pieces are mostly that it brings back this idea of being able to build smaller homes. As I mentioned earlier, Englewood has homes that are under a thousand square feet. Those were all built in the forties and fifties, and the current zoning doesn’t allow for that. So we want to actually just bring back smaller, more affordable homes. It also allows for what’s called an auxiliary dwelling unit. So if you have an existing home and you want to put an apartment behind your home, especially if you’re elderly and aging in place, this allows you to now have a revenue stream as well as just having someone that could help maintain your property. So allows you to stay in the property longer. We’ve been working with Mid-America Regional Council and they’re aging in place program, because I know that they’re a great partnership for us. So that’s something we’re working to help seniors that are already living in the area.

And then the other thing it allows for is a live work situation. So if you are a culinary artist, you can have a small eatery in your home up to 12 people, and you can open a gallery or a boutique within your home. Things that you would see commonly in Seattle in the suburbs of Seattle, we’re just bringing that west coast vibe to the middle of the United States. And what that does is it creates density, makes the neighborhoods walkable. So now you’re exploring a neighborhood because it’s not just looking at neat homes, but it’s also exploring businesses and restaurants that are now in the neighborhood and you’re walking these neighborhoods. So it brings vitality and growth to an area. And it does it incrementally, which I think has more staying power than if just some big box developer came in and built brand new apartments. This’ll happen one home at a time and it happens through word of mouth, through folks that have had a good experience and tell their friends.

And at the moment, we are tracking all the folks through our efforts that we have brought to Englewood. And the last six months we’ve had 18 new community members, some artists, some not. And I think that’s an important distinction is that we’re using arts as a catalyst and the identity of the area, but this is for everyone. And so we have teachers, nurses, first responders, we have a gamut of folks that want to be part of this community, but they love the arts identity, the arts brand. And you don’t have to be an artist to live in an arts community. And we’re seeing that, people really enjoy living in a community that has a playful art vibe. And of these 18 folks, many of them are first time home buyers, some of them and at the age of retirement are now just realizing that they’re able to purchase a home that they weren’t able to before.

And so Englewood Arts on our housing arm has realized that, in order to serve a wide variety of community members, we need to have a robust toolbox as I call it, of tools. And because everyone’s different. And we typically like to interview folks that are interested in being part of the community and find out what their needs are and what hurdles we need to overcome. And the more robust their toolbox is, the better we can serve them. And so we have loans that banks are making to the area that they’ve never made before. We have special programs that allow for say, potentially a lower credit score or assistance with a down payment or if there’s a problem showing proving income. We have loan programs for that too.

So not everybody suffers from the same situation. Some people have really excellent credit, but absolutely no money for down payment. And then others may have $15,000 under their mattress for a down payment, but have a really low credit score because of one circumstance or another, not anything in particular. So the more robust we can build our toolbox, whether it’s through mortgages or home improvement or loans for repairing homes, we’ve also helped a few existing homeowners that have lived in Englewood for many, many years that haven’t been able to get an equity loan because of the circumstances I mentioned before about comparables and no new builds. We’ve been able to help them get loans for home improvements.

Probably one of the most successful partnerships of all of our partnerships has been with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity that operates in Independence. There’s, as I mentioned before, obviously not a lot of development in Englewood. However, there is one developer that will develop in neighborhoods that you typically don’t see it and that’s Habitat. And so early in our formation, we knew that if we were wanting to help existing homeowners, Habitat would be a great partner. And they’ve been able to help folks that have haven’t been able to get homeowners insurance due to a leaky roof and they’ve been able to help get the roof repaired and get that home insured and just a myriad of different things. So it’s been a great partnership with us and it adds to our toolbox to not just attract new people to the area, but help those existing homeowners that have been here 10, 15, 20 years to give them something too. And what we’re trying to do is put new community members side by side with existing community members and offer everyone opportunities to help them where they’re at so everybody succeeds together.

Whitney Hosty:
Thank you. Michael. I think this holistic approach is so important. You’re really looking at all of the different aspects of the neighborhood and continued development. You have mentioned a number of individuals and organizations today that really were critical components of this project. Can you tell us, are there any other public, private partnerships that have been important to help make this a reality? And what really has philanthropy played in the project development as well?

Teresa Dorsch:
And we could speak quite a bit to this. And we’re very blessed to have quite a few organizations that have really stepped in very early on and said, “We love this and we’re here and we want to be a partner and collaborate and help.” I would say one of the first organizations would be the West End Connection. It’s another nonprofit right here based in Englewood. And they really helped bring this nonprofit into reality and gave Grow, which Michael had mentioned, a good footprint, a good foundation to be able to grow from. So they were honestly one of the first organizations that really stepped in and said, “Hey, we love this concept. We want to be a partner organization with this.” And also donated quite a bit of money from the get go to help us get going with our campaign and the capital campaign and their innovation. And then Michael, I know you could step in and also share quite a few different organizations.

Michael Baxley:
And I could do that. And inevitably I always miss some of the most obvious ones. So it’s a very, very long list. I think that the key is it started close to home and it really grew out. And as people heard about the story and the positivity and the change and the saw the commitment. Of the first million, we raised over 75% of the money came from Eastern Jackson County. And so I think that was important, not just for the community itself to see that really how bad they want this, but it was important for then supporters in the KC Metro and folks that do like to give philanthropic gifts to see how badly it was wanted. And so it sent a strong message to other foundations and we’ve had gifts from folks that have funds at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, as well as other foundations that are held by banks, both at Lead Bank and Commerce Bank and UMB.

And so there’s just endless stories and inevitably it breaks my heart to list them all. Because they, it’s too to list. And I always forget folks, I was really trying to touch on the in kind part because that was so interesting is not only did we get such get pledges and gifts, but the in kind where folks that couldn’t give money were able to find other ways to support the project. And so I think that’s important.

But for certainly, if it wasn’t for philanthropic giving, there wouldn’t be a transformation of this community. And so I think it’s important to just say that there wasn’t any federal or state or city involvement that was going to change the face of this community. It’s happened through community members and then folks that do philanthropic giving, supporting it. So it’s this partnership between community and donors and I think it’s been tremendous. And some of those donors being right inside Englewood. I feel very confident that Englewood is going to be transformed into a sustainable, very livable community. And I think the zoning that’s in place will ensure that it stays that way and doesn’t transform into something else that we have seen in other places where people get pushed out. So I feel really good about the direction this is going.

Whitney Hosty:
Absolutely. That’s exciting to hear. Well, I know we’re nearing the end of our time together today. Is there anything else that either of you would like to add before we wrap up?

Michael Baxley:
The biggest takeaway for folks is we want just to highlight the key points. This was started by community members. It attracted other community leaders to get involved. And it formed a nonprofit that then is developed two arms. One that deals with the development of a community arts center and the other that brings affordable and sustainable housing to transform a 3,900 home community, one of the most impoverished areas of Independence to be a diverse and accessible community. And so the Arts Center wants to do programming that reflects the diversity and the culture of the people that live in the area and in the metropolitan arts community area wide.

Teresa Dorsch:
Again, it’s just for me because this is a personal… It’s personal. I live in Englewood. I grew up coming to Englewood. I’m an artist. So it is very exciting for me to see the energy that is growing behind this project, behind Englewood Arts as a nonprofit, but in general the community and the art district. So it’s neat to be able to confidently say, we are trying to be very cognizant of how we’re going about this and trying to approach it with this holistic way of thinking. It’s very, very exciting to see this happening. I’m excited to see what Englewood will be in five or 10 years too.

Michael Baxley:
And I’m just going to jump in real quick, but I think that again, there’s a great need for affordable and sustainable housing right now. And we’re seeing that. I know if you look at the city of Kansas City, Missouri and others, they really are looking at how do we tackle this and with mixed results. And so I think what we’re trying to do is we see a need, and it’s not just a chance to help Englewood, but it’s a chance for the whole metropolitan area or folks outside of that to get involved. And so I would invite anybody that’s interested in community or arts to get involved with Englewood.

And we are inviting… It’s for everyone. We would like to see while there, there’s great diversity in the community. We have a 48% of Englewood citizens identify as a minority. And so we’d like to keep the diversity, keep the flavor and the culture of the area because if you come and visit, you’ll see how truly unique it is. And so this is a call out, not just to help Englewood, but this will benefit everyone. It’s a convenient 10 minute jot to downtown. So it’s a great place to live and work.

Whitney Hosty:
Well, Michael and Teresa, thank you so much for sharing the history and development of the Englewood Arts District with us today. I’m so excited to get back to Englewood soon and to see the recent developments and updates and absolutely to enjoy the art and support the community as well. So thank you both for taking the time to join me today.

Teresa Dorsch:
Thank you.

Michael Baxley:
Thank you for this great opportunity. We really appreciate it. And we love what the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s doing for Englewood Arts. So thank you.