Organization Aims to Ignite Creative Spirit in Richardson

Paul Voelker

Arts Incubator of Richardson (AIR) knows the importance of art—to creators and admirers of the arts, to businesses and organizations, to the community as a whole. With Kitty Goddard at the helm, AIR is on a mission to ignite creative spirit and grow Richardson—and its surrounding areas—as a hub for artistic endeavors. “For quality of life in your community, you need to support it,” Goddard says. “You need to have creative and nurturing programs that keep people here.”

AIR was incepted when the Rich-Tone Chorus—an award-winning women’s chorus chartered in Richardson—was looking for rehearsal space that fit their unique specifications (unobstructed views, high ceilings, floor area for choreography). As two chorus members shopped for space, they encountered other artists with similar needs. It wasn’t long before the women decided to create a nonprofit that would provide space for artists. Goddard was chair of the City of Richardson Arts Commission at the time, but as soon as her tenure ended, she jumped in to help. The first order of business was to change the name from the stodgy-sounding Richardson Fine Arts Center to the more inclusive Arts Incubator of Richardson. For Goddard, it was critically important to build the organization right away—even if they didn’t actually have the facility yet.

“We are a resource for people to make connections and for artists to find opportunities, but are also a catalyst to help artists look at things, even themselves, differently,” Goddard says.

AIR (chartered in 2007) is still on the hunt for its perfect creative space. But in the meantime, the organization works to host pop-up art events, paint murals (like the one completed recently for Four Bullets Brewing Company), form collaborations, and provide opportunities for artists of all types. AIR aims to link artists and creative endeavors with sponsor businesses. Their collaborative events drive awareness and attendance for all involved, so local businesses benefit along with artists and arts endeavors. Their most recent pop-up art show event was held in the building space around Texas Republic Bank and Prestonwood Pregnancy Center. The artists were a mix of ages and the artwork was a mix of mediums, and the crowd was comprised of 39 surrounding ZIP codes.

AIR regularly reaches the community via its regular events, AIRTime and SEED. AIRTime is a podcast-style interview series that features a different artist during each session and is hosted by Alamo Drafthouse. They’ve recorded 33 podcasts, with 10 currently available online. Recent guests have included Tim O’Heir (the Tony-nominated sound designer for Hedwig and the Angry Inch), the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Katherine Clapner (owner/chef of Dude Sweet Chocolate), and Joshua Habermann (Dallas Symphony Chorus director). By contrast, SEED is a regular creative discussion featuring an informal presentation. The idea is to generate creative awareness and drive people to participation.

“We are a resource for people to make connections and for artists to find opportunities, but are also a catalyst to help artists look at things, even themselves, differently,” Goddard says, stressing that people should find creative value in a plethora of mediums, be it fine arts, performing arts, landscape arts, or culinary arts.

One of AIR’s biggest recent projects was Ricochet15, a collaboration with the Richardson Symphony Orchestra via funding from the Richardson Arts Commission. Designed to be an annual event, Ricochet15 was a day-long arts festival with offerings all over the city—mini art show pop-ups in the park, Brad Oldham’s “Bird” sculpture installed by the Richardson Public Library, sidewalk chalk art, live music, and theatrical displays. The collaboration of local artists, arts organizations, and local businesses made the event a huge success, and AIR is already anticipating Ricochet16.

Also this year, AIR entered into a partnership with the City of Richardson. Goddard hopes that this will help her organization finally find a creative facility to call its own. “We’re providing opportunities to the people of Richardson, but we’d also like to be able to provide space,” she says. “That’s the end-of-the-line goal. And we’re getting closer.”

In the meantime, Goddard will keep doing what she does best: collaborating, organizing, discussing, and finding a way to make things work.

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