Joe Thompson creates artwork Wednesday at the Kan Du Studio and Gallery in downtown Findlay. Adults with developmental disabilities can create, display and sell their artwork at Kan Du. The studio’s leaders would like to move out of their current quarters and become part of a community visual arts center. Gov. John Kasich’s budget includes $300,000 toward that effort. (Photo by Randy Roberts)
By DENISE GRANT
Kan Du art studio is looking for more than just elbow room. It wants to become part of a community visual arts center.
Kan Du leaders want to move from their quarters at 329 S. Main St. in downtown Findlay, and state government is offering money to help.
On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced a $2.4 billion state construction budget, which includes funding for both the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts and the Kan Du Community Art Center project in Findlay. A total of $800,000 is being budgeted for the new performing arts center. Kan Du will receive $300,000.
The governor’s newly-formed Capital Arts & Culture Committee recommended both for funding. The committee received 170 applications, with requests approaching $200 million. A total of $33 million in projects were recommended to the governor. Ten projects are in northwestern Ohio.
Kan Du is an extension of Blanchard Valley Industries, Hancock County’s work habilitative program for adults with developmental disabilities. The studio offers a boutique setting for artwork to be created, displayed and sold.
The concept of art as employment for individuals with disabilities is relatively new. Kan Du opened in 2007.
Erika Miklovic, Kan Du director, said a visual arts center would serve the entire community, with Kan Du operating alongside other center activities, studios and artists.
For Kan Du’s artists, a community center would provide an opportunity to be fully integrated with the art community, she said. An art center would provide the community with workshops, residency programs and studio space, for example.
In all, it will take about $780,000 to renovate a building to house the center. The balance of the money may need to come through fundraising. A site has not yet been selected.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Connie Ament, superintendent of Blanchard Valley Center, which operates Blanchard Valley Industries.
She said the project, which is still in the conceptual phase, will most likely have to be completed in steps.
But there is no lack of enthusiasm for the project, and if they are successful, the art center will be the first of its kind in the United States, Miklovic said.
“The arts and what we create together lifts us, and creates light and love in real terms. Writing, music and the visual arts make all of our lives better,” Ament said.
Miklovic said the idea of a visual arts center in Findlay is not new.
“This is the third time I have been involved in a project to try and move the idea forward, and with governor pushing Ohio Works First and our efforts to move out into the community, the light bulb just went off,” she said.
Miklovic was named as Kan Du’s director about a year ago. She is a former adjunct instructor at Owens Community College’s Findlay campus, where she worked as both a tutor and a student club adviser. She attended the School of Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a bachelor’s degree. Miklovic also holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Findlay.
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