by Amber Monaco

Bridge Space, Lee’s Summit’s first co-working space and entrepreneur incubator, is a haven for artists. We believe that entrepreneurship can take many forms and artists are not to be left out of that conversation.

Art is more than something beautiful to look at. Art encourages, inspires and motivates creative thinking. Members are often commenting that they feel more creative when they are at Bridge Space. When entrepreneurs feel more creative they are more productive and innovative.

Artists are entrepreneurs (“ARTrepreneurs”) and art should be seen as economic development. Bridge Space isn’t the only one who sees the global economic and social contributions from arts. A Cultural Times survey estimated that creative industries generate $250 billion in revenue each year, creating 29.5 million jobs worldwide. That’s a huge impact!

We used this kind of impact as motivation when we put out a Call for Artists in May 2018. The Call for Artists was open to anyone, the less-experienced artists and professionals alike. We wanted to give those artists just starting out an opportunity to be commissioned for their work and build their portfolio. In the process, they improved their customer interaction and business skills, and took the reins of their hobby and to move it towards a business.

Bridge Space and its community partners, UMKC Enactus “” Arts and Entrepreneurship Team and Got Art Gallery, worked with local Kansas City artists to develop and create original works of art for our interior spaces.

We sought a group of emerging visual artists to create new works, including paintings, drawings, murals, photography, textiles, ceramics, digital media and sculptures. The goal was to inspire creativity, innovation, energy and to give Bridge Space a unique identity that cannot be found anywhere else. As a creative environment for productivity, collaboration, community and learning ““Bridge Space needed art.

Recently, a Bridge Space member emerged from their office to stretch their legs and made a comment that shows the depth of what art can do for one’s creative process: “The art around here adds energy to my work.”

When we announced the Call for Artists in May 2018, we received more than 20 submissions from local artists and we narrowed down to eight artists who presented concepts and designs that exceeded our expectations.

As a new business in downtown Lee’s Summit, cultivating a creative environment was a top priority. Bridge Space Founder and President, Ben Rao, was dedicated to filling the building with various mediums to give a creative experience to members.

The art at Bridge Space wouldn’t be possible without the City of Lee’s Summit’s commitment to bringing art and culture to downtown. The City was forward-thinking enough to pass mural standards which brought in the first mural on the side of the old Dayton Hotel in November 2017. The spunky, red-headed lady mural went viral on social media, showcasing art in downtown Lee’s Summit and validating that art supports economic development.

With more than a dozen pieces in one location, Bridge Space is now a formal stop on the Fourth Fridays Art Walks, a free community event that brings hundreds of people to Lee’s Summit and offers a better experience for those of us who walk these streets daily. Bridge Space is also partnering with the Lee’s Summit Arts Council October 10-11 for the Summit Art Festival and we will be open for showings.

The talented Bridge Space artists include Emily Alvarez, Kelsey Borch, Katherine Botts Whitaker, Shafer Brown, Kaitlyn Carlile, JT Daniels, Meredith Lucius, and Cayleigh Myers.

We encourage you to stop by and take a look at the art at Bridge Space and how art influences the shared workplace with creativity and energy. Our doors are open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.