WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) – Organizers said a new partnership between Towne West Mall and OpenStudios is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

 The program gives out three-month residencies to local artists. If selected, they can turn retail spaces into art studios.

On Wednesday, a group of interested artists toured the five available spaces at the mall. John Harrison said he wants to turn the space into a kinetic art studio. 

“If there are applications that come in that favor other ideas, that’s wonderful,” Harrison said. “And I’m going to visit them, and we’ll find another opportunity.” The artists can turn the space into whatever they want, including teaching classes or hosting performance art. Elizabeth Stevenson, with Fisch Haus and OpenStudios, is in charge of giving out the spaces.

“This is a win-win situation,” Stevenson said.

“I think it’s nice to know that at least one person a day might come by and care about what you’re doing,” she said.

Mall Manager Charley Cooper said the partnership, not only benefits the artists, but the mall itself.

“Unfortunately, people really get hung up on the visuals, and so they’re like oh it’s so empty, and they kind of get that stigma in their head,” Cooper said. “And so by doing programs like this, it’s going to help with our other tenants that we’re bringing in.”

Stevenson said she’s also working with Cooper to host art events, like First Friday and Final Friday, at the mall to include other vendors.

Cooper said the partnership is just one part of her larger goal to breathe new life into Towne West. It is free to the artists, but OpenStudios is paying to rent the spaces.

“Come April, it’s really…there’s going to be so much happening, and we just hope to continue that momentum.”

The artists will have access to their new space beginning April 1. The program will last for one year, but the artists will switch out of the spaces every three months.

Applications are open, and anyone can apply through OpenStudios and Fisch Haus.