MORE THAN A FESTIVAL
WRITTEN BY: Consuelo Cruz
DESIGN BY: Micah Barta, Whiskey Design
Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Experience is coming this fall. The nine-week, citywide celebration of contemporary visual and performing art is taking place from Aug. 25 through Oct. 28, on a scale previously unseen in the City, and with a multi-discipline focus unseen in the country. In addition to highlighting Kansas City’s rich history and cultural heritage, creativity and innovation, and array of artists and artistic practices, Open Spaces is meant to spark new ideas and initiatives that can transform and connect the City and public spaces through the arts.
The event is made possible through a public-private partnership that includes the City of Kansas City Missouri’s Office of Culture and Creative Services, a Founders Circle of philanthropists and community leaders led by Scott Francis, artistic director Dan Cameron, Kansas City Creates, O’Neill Events, and the Kansas City creative community. Due to the public-private partnership, the festival is able to expand across multiple weeks throughout the City and include the participation of many artists. Anchored in Swope Park, Open Spaces 2018 will radiate throughout Kansas City, showcasing the city’s famed parks and boulevards, as well as urban spaces and existing arts and cultural venues.
Open Spaces, which Mayor Sly James officially announced in November, will include commissioned and selected works from more than 80 international, national and local visual and performing artists and creatives. The pinnacle occurs from Oct. 12-14 during an intensive weekend of multi-disciplinary activities of visual and performing arts in Swope Park.
Cameron, founder and Artistic Director of the Prospect New Orleans triennial, which opened its 4th edition last November, has organized biennials and exhibitions at museums in New York, Madrid, Moscow, Istanbul, Vienna, Beijing and Sao Paulo, among others. “Open Spaces 2018 should resonate with Kansas City’s heritage as both the cradle of modern jazz and the present-day site of unprecedented technological innovation,” Cameron said. “The title evokes the broad plains of the American Midwest, of which Kansas City has long been a metropolitan hub. Swope Park will serve as a natural, open-air environment that will celebrate a diverse range of artistic practices, and help move our collective conversations about heritage and creativity forward, toward greater mutual understanding and respect as a community.”
In November 2017, an invitation to submit creative concepts went out to individuals and organizations (with preference given to those within 50 miles of Kansas City), to propose ideas for projects at Swope Park and in open spaces across the City. In February local architects were invited to submit proposals for the creation of The Village in Swope Park, temporary structures where visitors can enjoy visual art, a makers’ market, performances and creative activities. Kansas City regional artists and makers are invited to showcase their works for sale in The Village.
Director of Creative Services Megan Crigger said “Already, the Kansas City artistic community has a presence on the national and international stage, reinforcing Kansas City’s reputation as a cultural city. We hope that through a collective effort that we can amplify and acknowledge and celebrate our local creatives who serve as ambassadors for our city and, in return, welcome national and international artistic excellence to Kansas City.”
Mayor James would like to see the event bring increased accessibility to arts and culture and community connectivity. “I firmly believe that Open Spaces can bring together the people of Kansas City and the surrounding region in a way that can put our city on the map as an arts and culture center,” he said. “The arts have the power to capture our past, challenge the present and inspire our future. I am encouraged by the outstanding artistic talent our city has to offer and the possibilities this event could bring for our future.”