Legion Arts, Public Space One form partnership to bridge Cultural Corridor

First collaboration between both groups will feature internationally-curated multi-media show set to open in March

Published: January 24 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:35 am in
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A new partnership in the arts is underway in Eastern Iowa: Iowa City’s Public Space One is teaming up with Legion Arts of Cedar Rapids.

It’s a chance for more artistic collaboration across the Cultural Corridor, Legion Arts executive director F. John Herbert said.

“It’s a chance to extend our ability to speak to and serve and engage a broader community,” he said. “They (Public Space One) bring a great deal of energy in supporting vibrant programming and emerging artists and art forms.”

Based since 2011 at CSPS in the NewBo district, Legion Arts has been a cultural force for the arts in Cedar Rapids for the last two decades. Though it was originally founded in Iowa City, Herbert said the organization has lost many of its connections to the southern end of the Corridor. He said he hopes Public Space One can help bridge that gap.

Public Space One was founded as an arts organization 11 years ago in Iowa City. Over the last decade, the organization, staffed entirely by volunteers, has been housed in four different locations. It has served in a wide range of roles, from organizing art exhibits, serving as a venue for performers, offering art classes and launching Zenzic Press, a community-based printmaking workshop. It recently expanded its space in the Wesley Center.

“They’re very typical of an organization that has limited resources and has had a great impact in the community that’s disproportionate to their resources,” Herbert said.

With the partnership, Legion Arts will serve as Public Space One’s fiscal sponsor in place of The James Gang, an Iowa City-based nonprofit focused on community building.

Public Space One director John Engelbrecht said the move from the James Gang to Legion Arts made sense because of the Cedar Rapids’ nonprofit’s focus on the arts.

“It’s kind of an exciting new chapter for us,” he said. “We’re hoping this adds a new element to what we’re doing.”

The two organizations have already started collaborating on “Exuberant Politics,” an internationally-curated multi-media show set to open in March. Half the installation will be hosted by CSPS and half by Public Space One.

Herbert said this isn’t the first local partnership for Legion Arts, and he hopes it won’t be the last. He said Legion Arts has been slowly growing partnerships over the last couple of years, such as collaborating with French cultural group Union des Francais de L'Iowa and by offering office space to SPT Theatre, the Urban Theater Project and poetry group VoiceBox.

“This is a kind of partnership that we’re very excited about,” Herbert said. “We’re open to hearing from other artists and small arts organizations who might be interested in a partnership.”

He said interested groups should first visit the Legion Arts website to get a feel for its mission and can email him at john@legionarts.org.

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