By Kevin Collison
The Arts Asylum, a downtown Kansas City cultural destination for 10 years, is closing later the year and relocating to new space in the Brookside neighborhood, a move partly prompted by the lingering Covid pandemic.
“We thought we were on an upswing and with a new season starting we were ready to go and let more people in the building and do it safely,” said Evie Craig, executive director.
“Now, it’s not safe. None of us want to endanger our performers, volunteers and our audience.”
The organization was started in 2011 in a 135 year-old former Methodist Church at 100 E. Ninth St. It has accommodate both live performance as well as provided studio space for up to 26 artists.
But even with $84,500 in Covid relief from the federal government, Craig said the new resurgence of Covid and the return of indoor mask mandates has forced the organization to rethink its future.
“The model was that we would have been sustaining a very large building and that would be the only thing we did,” she said. “We’d be spinning our wheels keeping the building open and that’s not our mission.”
Founders Alex and Courtney Perry have offered Arts Asylum space in a building they own at 800 E. Meyer Blvd.
“The Arts Asylum will be investing in the creation of a new space for theatre, events and
learning at..the A to Z Theatrical campus,” according to a press release.
“In addition to the move, the agency is forming a collective of producers and educators to help further its mission.”
The building at 800 E. Meyer opened in 1959 as the home of the Kehilath Israel synagogue. The congregation left the building in 1983 and relocated to Johnson County.
Craig said the new location may be an opportunity to reach a larger audience with the performances at Arts Asylum, however there will be no artists studio space included in the mix.
“Moving to East Brookside is exciting, there’s a lot going on it that area,” she said.
No timetable has been established for the reopening and the organization is still in the preliminary stages of designing its new space. A fundraising effort is expected to help facilitate the move.
There also will likely continue to be activity at the current location at Ninth and Harrison.
“We still have contracts with producing partners and we will be working out the details,” Craig said.
She recommended people check the Arts Asylum website for updates.
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