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Englewood Arts partners with Metropolitan Community College to offer hands-on learning

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 19:39:24-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo — It was all hands on deck at the Englewood Arts Center on Friday.

The 30,000 square-foot facility is getting a major makeover after previously being a former medical building in town.

Staff hopes the brand new building will provide art studios and serve the community as a safe space for budding artists to share their work.

Building manager, Brandon Schnur, said the building is where old meets new.

The project aims to preserve much of its original characteristics, while breathing life back into the space.

"To be able to take something that is kind of an iconic space in Englewood, and turn it into something really positive for the community, just was really important to the community,” Schnur said.

Staff broke ground in July of 2020 and have been tackling the renovations one by one.

Englewood Arts has raised over half of the $2 million goal, but is still fundraising along the way to continue the construction.

Once open to the public, it will continue to collaborate with local organizations and school districts to keep the arts in the forefront of curriculum and projects.

Metropolitan Community College recently teamed up with the nonprofit.

Nine high-school students began installing 90 new windows in the building on Feb. 22. Students selected to participate in the program were those studying in the Kansas City Construction Career Academy.

“It really helped me decide what I want to do with my future and what it’s really like to work construction,” senior Owen Stribling said.

Under the guidance of manager Schnur, and instructor Je-Anne’ Rueckert, students learned real-life skills to thrive in the construction industry.

“We were trying to figure out a way for us to fit into their needs,” Rueckert said. “So as they started getting donations and building their partnerships, one of the big things that popped up was the windows. And I was like, ‘My kids can do that!’”

Schnur and Rueckert hope the two institutions can create additional programs like this going forward.

“There’s plenty more construction that needs to be done here, and we’re really hoping that we can bring in some more students and find more projects for them to help us with," Schnur said.

Anyone interested in donating to the construction of the Englewood Arts Center and its programs can do so on its website.