March 19, 2014
Drury Enactus, formerly known as SIFE, has been hard at work this year expanding the business they helped develop three years ago, Art Inspired. In collaboration with Abilities First, Art Inspired was created to offer meaningful employment to people with developmental disabilities.
Officially launched in August 2012, Art Inspired has grown and transformed in the short time it has been open. It started as a document disposal agency that converts recycled paper into artwork. Some of the products available for sale include frames, stationary, decorative letters, wine racks, and even furniture.
Each year, Drury Enactus works with Art Inspired to help broaden its appeal and revenue. The business now includes an art gallery, art classes, and a “creation” station where customers can use the store’s paper and supplies to decorate their purchased product at a cost of $5 an hour.
Matt Hill, an employee at Art Inspired, makes a mold for a candle holder using material made from shredded paper.
This year, Drury Enactus has worked with Central High School’s Special Education Department to develop an internship program at Art Inspired. Now included in their curriculum, students in one of Central’s Special Education classes travel to Art Inspired twice a week to learn about customer service and job shadow some of the current employees.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to get real-world experience,” says Drury Enactus member Emma Wheat. “They go through the job application process, learn about work place etiquette, and gain skills to put on their resume.”
Drury Enactus is also working with Art Inspired to expand its event space rentals. For $100 an hour, people can rent out the space for up to four hours. Art Inspired can also coordinate the rental of chairs, tables, sound systems, food, and other services for an additional charge. It can hold 150 people seated or 250 standing.
This versatile space has already been used for a networking event with the Chamber of Commerce, wedding receptions, office and social events, and art exhibits. The artwork of Edward Deeds, an Ozark man who spent most of his life in a mental hospital in Nevada, Mo., was revealed at a gala event during March’s First Friday Art Walk and is currently displayed at Art Inspired.
Without help from the Springfield community, none of these endeavors would have been possible, says Dr. John Taylor, faculty advisor of Drury Enactus.
“The core mission of Art Inspired is to serve as an employment and growth opportunity for individuals with special needs,” Taylor says. “Everything the Enactus team does in its partnership with Art Inspired serves that mission. In order for the business to fulfill its mission, we need the support of the community. Their patronage is key to the success of the store.”
The Drury team will present their work and compete at the 2014 Enactus National Exposition April 1-3. For more information about Art Inspired, visit its website or Facebook page, or the store location at 310 S. Campbell Ave.
Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally ran in the Springfield News-Leader.