Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Jump Start Art, KC, located at 4022 Harrison in Kansas City, Missouri, is a grassroots organization that helps upcoming artists that have fallen through the cracks. Sharon Eiker established the non-profit corporation in May 2014.
The goal of Jump Start Art, KC is to help emerging artists find the resources that they need to give them that extra push in finding their niche. “It is like the old-time operators that sit in front of their switchboard and take the calls and plugs the call into the right connection; that is what we do,” Eiker states.
Eiker’s background is in education and art, and when she would see kids or artists come out with no connection to the art community, she wanted to do something that would help. Even retired people that were depressed and needed the inspiration to get them out of their slump. “Art helps people to find a center,” Sharon Eiker, Founder and President of Jump Start Art, states. Eiker became inspired and began the paperwork she needed to start Jump Start Art, KC.
Photo by, Kathryn Day Sharon Eiker, Founder and President of Jump Start Art, discusses Jump Start Art and the satisfaction of helping emerging artists.
“We as a society are missing out because some of the most creative people don’t have the personality that pushes them through the system. They need help,” Sharon Eiker states, “That is one of the reasons why we help.” Eiker has prior experience in non-profits and was a founding mother of the Writer’s Place, where she was on the board for 21 years. Having this knowledge, Eiker put together a panel for Jump Start Art which has ten board members. The committee began with talented writers, artists, a substitute teacher, a performance artist, a musician, and a part-time cognitive therapist. The common link was that these people have all achieved something in the arts and wanted to give back to the community.
The organization gets its funds from writing for grants, donations, membership fees, and fundraisers. They recently were given a grant from Hallmark. Jump Start gives back to the community through the gifts and member fees, helping artists in need.
When Eiker first started Jump Start Art, she talked to Richard Fritz, who has a long-standing personal working experience with non-profit organizations. “The non-profits in my mind are a group of people in the community who organize and come together addressing the needs of the community,” states Richard Fritz of Art Experience. Fritz has 14-years of experience working with non-profits. “The bigger foundations that manage trust funds are the ones who feed the non-profits with portions of money to help to address the issues that they say they are going to address. It comes down from federal, state, and local funding, and that is the environment, at least in Kansas City” Fritz states. “An organization is built on trust and a belief system that the efforts that they are doing are helpful to the community. They serve a need that the community has to have done and the government agencies are not addressing. Non-profits are filling the gap.” Jump Start Art is filling that gap in the community.
Some of Jump Start Art projects consist of conducting poetry and writing workshops at various public libraries. Eiker talks about one of the Summer youth poetry camps at the Kansas City Public Library, Lucile H. Bluford Branch, in 2017. Eiker tells how she spoke to the kids in one of their workshops, talking about ‘Truth to Power’ and about the Freedom Riders and the Black Panthers. The older girls were on their phones texting and not being very attentive until a man named David got up and spoke of how he was a Black Panther back in the day. After the man finished talking, all of the kids started writing and participating in the workshop. Eiker tells another cute story of a painting workshop Jump Start Art did at Troost Fest in 2017, where parents brought their kids to attend. The organization set up a tent, tables with art supplies, easels, and watercolors. A three-year-old boy jumps up excited, takes his clothes off, and starts painting very focused on his work. The boy later yells, finished! The boy had autism, and he took off his clothes so he would not get paint on them. The child knew precisely when the painting was complete. The mother was so excited to see her child working with color, and she found a new outlet to help her boy.
(Left to Right) Sharon Eiker and Richard Eiker at Troost Fest 2017 photo provided by Jump Start Art. In 2017 Eiker worked with Liberty Arts Commissioner Carol Kariotis, who arranged for Jump Start Art to hang art and share framed poetry in various locations. The Mid-Continent Public Library, Liberty Community Center, and Liberty City Hall Atrium Gallery are the places where Jump Start Arts artists displayed and hung their artwork. An article written by Kellie Houx discusses the showcased art by Jump Start Art members.
These are just a few of Jump Start Art shows and workshops’ examples to help emerging artists no matter the age. “If an Artist can imagine it, it can happen; with little help, it will happen,” Eiker states, “Jump Start Art, KC is the catalyst that ignites the artist.” If someone needs a book published, a demo recorded, help showcasing artwork, Jump Start Art can help. Eiker would love to see Jump Start Art organized in other states to provide resources and continue their plight to help emerging artists. There is no limit for aspiring artists of all ages.
Graphic designed by Kathryn Day using Adobe Spark If you would like to contact Jump Start Art go to www.jumpstartartkc.org or https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartArtKC/ Written by, Kathryn Day March 28, 2021