Urban Artist Alliance for Child Development known as Urb Arts, a community arts organization, hopes to raise $72,000 in 72 hours. Founder MK Stallings said the money will fund the organization's purchase of a building in north St. Louis to remake as a new arts center.
“A professional performing arts center for community artists would elevate, I would say, the game for a lot of community artists in St. Louis,” said Stallings, the administrative and creative force behind Urb Arts.
Urb Arts is raising the money in a somewhat unconventional way, with a weekend-long fundraising marathon. Each day features a variety of events, including a paint party and open mic. And each night will be capped by a poetry slam focused on female performers.
The winner of the three-day slam will represent the Urb Arts slam team at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mex.
Urb Arts is dedicated to presenting local visual artists, performers and slam poets. Stallings said the building would provide space and technological resources, like dependable projectors and a PA system, to allow local poets and performers to present their work more professionally. Stallings believes Urb Arts' nonprofit status, combined with this new resource, would fill a gap in the north city arts community.
"When you don't necessarily have to get rich off the backs of poets and artists, you can be far more patient and allow for some experimentation," said Stallings. "Those are the conditions artists need to be successful in their field."
Implementing new technological resources in the space are key for developing that sense of experimentation and public interest in area performers and artists.
That way, "the audience can fully take in whatever this artist has to offer and hopefully be a remarkable experience for everyone involved,” said Stallings.
Stallings has fostered the St. Louis poetry slam community for more than a decade, in the process helping St. Louis to become one of the top 10 cities for slams. Through Urb Arts, Stallings has developed a poetry slam team that has toured the United States and allowed poets to participate in the National Poetry Slam competition.
The center's new space and technological support would also give performers a chance to develop longer, one-person shows based on their work. Fully developed theatrical presentations are a logical next step for slam poets and local performers, he said.
He also intends to include a gallery for local visual artists in the new building, should the organization raise the appropriate funding. The fundraising drive ends Sunday.