Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
The mall closest to where I live is the Crestwood Mall, a rather sad, indoor mall that has lost much of its business in the last few years. Last year it was purchased and the new owners will be converting it into an outdoor, village like setting, which I think is a great idea. However, they have to wait until the long-term leases expire, which means that we’re stuck with the sad, indoor mall for another 3-5 years.
Enter a little creative thinking.
The owners of the mall contacted several art groups with a question: if we convert the large, vacant department store into an artist area, could you use the space? Not only were the artists interested, the owners received more applications than they could grant.
The area that used to be the large Dillard’s Department store is now the new ArtSpace: a theater, dance studio, and artist gallery, where the artists get the space for nominal rent, as long as they pay the utilities and fix the area up. The mall owners fill the dead space, and attract new visitors. The artists get a communal area that is guaranteed to attract people from far and wide, because nothing like this has ever been done before. From the Post Dispatch Story:
Those that have started to move in include Laumeier Sculpture Park, DaySpring School of the Arts, Jeane Vogel Fine Art, Marble Stage Theatre, the Hangar and the bookstore I Don’t Want to Kiss a Llama.
In exchange for the space, the arts groups agree to decorate the shop windows, a convenient way to call attention to their work. They have to pay for utilities, but the rent “is just north of nothing,” said Son, in some cases as low as $50 a month […] Each space will be arranged to suit its group’s needs. For example, Son expects several dance companies to share one of the big spaces. One painter — who enjoys talking to visitors while he works — plans to turn his space into a studio; another group of artists plans to work elsewhere, but show and sell their paintings in a collective gallery. A fabric artist, a jewelry designer and an organization that recycles industrial materials for school art projects will be ArtSpace neighbors, too.
Absolutely brilliant idea. This ensures that not only will the mall attendance dramatically pick up, which will be healthy for the existing stores and restaurants, but the art groups get an excellent chance for exposure to a wider audience.