The Garden City Telegram
1/26/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Artsy idea

Main Street site should remain draw for downtown.

The search for a new home for Garden City Arts has headed in another direction.

Passed over after requesting the former American Legion building on Pine Street — the Garden City Commission instead opted to sell the building to proprietors of an Italian restaurant — the local arts organization now is looking at turning the Commerce Bank building on Main Street into a cultural center for the arts.

Based on recent discussion by the arts organization's board of directors, a plan to move Garden City Arts into the building would include an assist from the Kansas City, Mo.-based Kemper Foundation, which has an impressive record of giving back to communities where Commerce Bank does business.

The Garden City Arts board envisions receiving the Commerce Bank property as a donation.

A bigger venue than the arts group currently has at its 318 N. Main St. location would make it possible to display more art, and engage more artists from throughout the region.

Additional workshops and other gatherings also could be accommodated.

Commerce Bank's Main Street property sits in a prominent location, and could serve many needs with bank operations moving to Kansas Avenue. For example, the property was cited as a possibility for four court-related services agencies in Finney County, but reportedly may require work to make it Americans with Disabilities Act accessible for such a use, something the Garden City Arts board should consider.

Talks regarding the arts group's proposal appear to be in the early stages. It will help to hear more details on how the arts organization would use the sizable downtown Garden City property in a way that would serve the community.

There's no doubt the arts and an inviting downtown district play important parts in helping Garden City remain an attractive regional destination.

The Commerce Bank building has been a convenient stopping point for customers and others gathering for meetings for years, and should continue to be a draw for its next tenant.

While it could be a fine site for local arts endeavors, all involved have much more to explore before making such a move.