Heartland Arts KC merges art and social change – KC STUDIO

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Logan Myles Stacer (artist)

Logan Myles Stacer has high hopes and plans for Kansas City and the Midwest, all revolving around the intersection of art and public policy.

The merging of the arts with social change, while quite well established on the coasts, is sorely lacking here, he argues. Enter Heartland Arts KC to “reposition Kansas City as a hub of cultural and civic leadership.” The first step will be to engage emerging artists. Youth education will follow.

A native of Kansas City, Stacer grew up as a speech and debate captain and state and national champion in high school and later at Kansas State University. He was already enrolled for the fall 2018 semester at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts, when in July he learned he was accepted into the prestigious #BARS Theatre-In-Verse Workshop created by “Hamilton” star Daveed Diggs and slam poet Raphaël Casal. The result of the 10-participant, two-month program was “Bringing Monuments to Life,” produced three nights in a row at the Public Theater in New York City.

Stacer then began her graduate studies in arts policy at NYU. He admits that being around the likes of Leslie Odom Jr. and the “Hamilton” cast gave him some pretty unrealistic expectations. The six-week break between semesters—the first unplanned period he had experienced since middle school—became his “dark night of the soul.” He found guidance in faith, including Christian, Taoist and philosophical teachings. “Believing in something bigger than me” as a goal, he created Heartland Arts KC. He completed his master’s degree, returned to KC for a week, reconnected with his wife, Mikala, and returned to New York, where he got to work.

He helped teach a class at NYU with Anna Deavere Smith and facilitated a five-day “Theatre of Change” project at Columbia University, involving artists and policy makers. He studied Sketch Comedy at the UCB training center.

He then planned his own three-day art and politics workshop and held it in Atlanta with Mikala, who was based there. The workshop was organized in conjunction with the ACLU of Georgia and Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project and focused on voter suppression. It included five artists from Atlanta and five from Kansas City. Plans to hold a workshop in Chicago focused on rent control have been thwarted by the pandemic. The two returned to Kansas City and were married in a small outdoor ceremony at Monument Rock in western Kansas.

Last year, Stacer taught at Ewing Marion Kauffman School. In February, he wrote and produced his first play, “Jazz District,” a rap/family drama with the Kansas Theater Works Podcast. Mikala, writer and actress, had a TV script accepted at Duluth’s Catalyst (Story) Content Festival. Stacer has a book of journals, essays, and poems, “Talking to Trees and Other Acts of Self-Love,” ready for publication. Mikala continues to write and audition and do commercial work.

But their dedication is to Heartland Arts KC: promoting, networking and applying for grants.

A crowdfunding initiative has raised $5,000 and will be used to pay 10 artists a scholarship of $500 each to take part in a 12-week program, which includes a meeting once a week and three weekends of performances from February to May.

So Stacer is “in full CEO mode” now, missing the adrenaline of performance, but certain he’s on the right track. He wants to bring “radical imagination” to Kansas City, sponsor responsible, non-competitive, cooperative, committed and sustainable artists. He wants to tell more completely the history of the Blacks (his father is part of Seminole) and highlight male role models. He wants to follow jazz more and lists Charlie Parker, Walt Disney, Walt Chamberlain and Janelle Monae as reasons to believe that KC can be a center of progressive thought and proactive advocacy.

To learn more, visit www.heartlandartskc.org.

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