New program mixes business and art treasures in the Gateway Arts District -- Gazette.Net


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The walls of Rene Hoffler’s dance studio have been bare since she opened the business in October. A new program in the Gateway Arts District pairing business owners and artists could change that.

“It’s a blank canvas. An artist could think of ways to use the space that I haven’t. As a dance studio owner, I don’t necessarily think in that way,” said Hoffler, owner of Ballet, Tap and All That Jazz Dance and Fitness Studio in Hyattsville. “My father was an artist, so I understand the impact an artist can bring to a dance studio.”

The Biz-Art Match-Up program is a cooperative venture. One partner is the Hyattsville Community Development Corp., a nonprofit aimed at spurring economic development in Hyattsville’s commercial corridors. The other is Art Lives Here, an initiative to promote the arts in the Gateway Arts District, which includes Hyattsville, Brentwood, North Brentwood and Mount Rainier.

“What we’re hoping for is some unique collaborations between artists and business owners that will produce something neither would have come up with on their own,” said Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville Community Development Corp.

The program will match about 12 businesses with artists to develop works of art for the businesses, Eisenberg said.

Justin Fair, economic development coordinator with the HCDC, said artists will be paid at least $500 commission from the program, with a minimum $300 match from the business owner.

Last year, Fair said, HCDC held a smaller program, the Street Art Initiative, which similarly connected businesses with artists. But that was limited to outdoor, small-scale murals. Fair said this time they are hoping to connect more businesses with artists in a wide range of media.

“What we’re hoping to do is to help businesses in the area to take part in the creative life of the Gateway Arts District,” Eisenberg said. “It’s really about networking and collaboration.”

Kim Deane, owner of Revive Community Acupuncture in Mount Rainier, said the program sounds like it would be an asset to the arts district.

“Everybody here is one small mom-and-pop business next to another, so anything that helps bring people together and forge connections is wonderful,” Deane said.

The program is soliciting applications from artists of all mediums until March 31, Eisenberg said. Businesses will be invited to apply in April by contacting the HCDC at 301-683-8267 or visiting its website at hycdc.org. Those that proceed will get access to portfolios of approved artists to arrange an introduction, Eisenberg said.

Eisenberg said businesses can choose and meet with an artist to discuss what sort of work could be done.

Fair said he expects the first year of the program to be full of creative surprises.

“We won’t really know what will come out of this until we start,” he said.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net