City-wide, 60-day arts event ‘Open Spaces’ will take place fall 2018

KCMO Mayor Sly James announces the new Open Spaces 2018: a Kansas City Arts Experience event on the morning of Monday, November 27.

By Melissa Wharton

Northeast News

Get ready for the biggest art show Kansas City has ever put on. Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Arts Experience will take place next fall, the City announced today. The 60-day event will feature artists of all kinds, from the Kansas City area and beyond.

Talks of a city-wide arts event started in 2016, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James’ intention was to hold the event in the fall of 2017. When it became clear that timeframe was too ambitious, the City moved plans to 2018, and now Open Spaces will take place next year from August 28 to October 25.

“Over the years our vision has evolved to focus on developing a signature arts event that will showcase the city as a destination for artists of all disciplines, whether those disciplines are visual, performing, musical, what have you,” said James. “It’s an opportunity to unite through diversity where experiential, visual, language, musical arts collide to celebrate Kansas City’s real liberated commitment to the arts.”

During the 60 days, Swope Park will be transformed into an Arts Village where audiences can go on the weekends to see new works and performances. Open Spaces will also feature art installations and performances across Kansas City.

The City has hired internationally recognized curator Dan Cameron to curate the event. Cameron said his hope is that Open Spaces will move conversations about heritage and creativity forward toward greater mutual understanding and respect.

Chris Hernandez, Director of the City Communications Office, said the call for artists is extended to people from all parts of Kansas City, not just areas typically associated with art. The City expects to feature approximately 25 local, national and international visual artists. Dozens of performing artists will perform throughout the event.

When asked about concerns that the event will take away funding from communities like the Northeast, James put the focus on tourism dollars.

“The Neighborhood Tourism Development Fund is to guarantee tourism, and tourism is one of the things that puts money back into those coffers to replenish it,” James said. “So there will be more money available as a result of tourism.”

James also said one of his goals during this project was refocusing the NTDF. He said the fund became a place for projects to go to when they ran out of other resources, and that the City is going back to promoting tourism with the NTDF.

Open Spaces will cost the city about $500,000, James said, and the rest of the funds will come from private fundraising. Fundraising efforts are being handled by a Founders Circle of large donors and arts leaders led by Scott Francis.

For more information or to apply to the call for artists, visit

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