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Luminary arts incubator advances with revised Cherokee Street plan

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2012 - The Luminary Center for the Arts has announced plans to move forward with its Cherokee Street relocation and expansion.

Beginning next month, renovations of the roof, facade and exterior will begin at The Luminary’s new 2701-7 Cherokee St. location, with plans to open in the spring of 2013. Luminary founders James and Brea McAnally have a lease/purchase agreement for the 13,000 square-feet facility.

Earlier plans were to purchase a building at 2700 Cherokee, across the street from the new location. The 2701-7 space, which became available this past summer, offers comparable square footage for less initial expense, according to James McAnally.

Moving from their current South City location at 4900 Reber Pl. to a larger building will allow for expanded gallery, studios and workshops. It will also provide living areas for artists-in-residence. Under that program, artists, many from other countries, would apply to work on a specific project and stary for a few weeks to three months. If accepted, they would get free housing,  work space and other resources.

“Right now, we have applications from 15 different countries and we don’t have anywhere to house them,” McAnally said.

The Luminary has raised $75,000 from 500 businesses and people (and through a Kickstarter campaign), to fund early renovations and operating expenses during that process. The incubator has another $30,000 from grants and donors in restricted funds.

The Luminary has several partners in this venture. Jason Deem, president of the Cherokee Street Business Association and Will Liebermann, association board member and Cherokee Street investor, purchased the building on the McAnally’s behalf, using the couple’s cash deposit. They will rent the building at cost, with plans to buy it within two years.

The Cherokee Street location is a good fit because of its already burgeoning arts activity.

"It’s an area where a lot of artists and musicians live and spend time, and a lot of other arts organizations are here. And it’s a fundamental part of our mission to support artists and arts organizations in general, so it’s kind of a natural for us,” McAnally said.

The Luminary continues to seek donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, as well as in-kind donations. The FORM Design Show, the organization’s annual fundraiser and, this year, its five-year anniversary event, will take place Sept. 28-29 in conjunction with Design Week.

During construction, The Luminary gallery will temporarily move to 2644 Cherokee, where Brea McAnally has her photo studio. Studios will remain open and concerts will take place at the Reber location until the new space is open.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.