Friday, July 31, 2015

Tribune: Can Street Art Boost Wabash Businesses?

New "Harmony" Piece on the Back of University Center between State and Wabash
Done By Prominent Street Artist Ben Eine (photo from Chicago Tribune)
A great read recently on Chicago Tribune about the momentum behind the Wabash Arts Corridor:
"The momentum now is remarkable," said Mark Kelly, vice president of student success at Columbia College and a driving force behind the eight-block corridor, which he hopes will become Chicago's pre-eminent destination for high-end street art. Kelly has identified 45 more building walls on the corridor that he thinks could serve as canvases and already is discussing projects for next summer with Vertical Gallery, a Ukrainian Village art gallery that has helped bring some of the big names to town. 
The corridor, a collaboration of the cultural and educational institutions concentrated in the area, is among several initiatives underway to make Wabash a more vibrant destination. Separately, a design duo recently raised $60,000 to test Wabash Lights, a colorful interactive lighting installation to run under the "L" tracks. 
The goal is to give the area an identity by tapping into the creative hive of its art schools, galleries and performance art venues, and in turn draw students, visitors and shoppers to support businesses, Kelly said.

Beyond the concept the article actually poses an interesting question - Can the corridor (aka street art) be a boon for business?  The article delves into it with the following snippet:
Dan Broughton, property manager at 1132 S. Wabash Ave., calls Kelly "the world's hardest person to say no to." On his property, a newly renovated six-story building with a restaurant coming to its first floor and five floors of offices above, a mural of a little boy in a cape and aviator goggles soars across the southern wall, painted earlier this year by Chicago native Hebru Brantley.  
In addition to liking the art, Broughton said the urban superhero has helped create an identity for the building, which is helpful as it markets itself to prospective tenants, including tech companies, galleries and nonprofits.  
"We're trying to create this idea of a building that has some creative energy, and that (mural) certainly lends itself to that vision and the type of tenants we want to attract," Broughton said. "It's all part of what gets people excited about getting in that building."
If you're not aware, 1132 S Wabash has received some attention from us here at Sloopin for a variety of items.  One being the mural by Hebru Brantley referred to above, but also because they've attracted a new BBQ concept called Belly-Up that seems unique for the neighborhood.

So maybe there is something to the idea that this street art can help business.  What do you think?  Is this a boon for business?

No comments: