The Zhou Brothers Art Center is calling on artists of all backgrounds to submit applications for their 45 artist studios.

Still undergoing renovations, the arts center will be located in the historic Crispus Attucks School building at 1801 E. 18th Street in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. 

The nearly $30 million historic renovation project has faced delays due to the pandemic and the historic preservation process involved with maintaining the integrity of the building which is on the National Historic Registry.  However construction finally got underway with an official groundbreaking in October 2022 and construction is expected to be completed by December, with a grand opening date in early 2024.

Artists interested in occupying studio space are encouraged to first take a hard-hat tour on Sun. Oct. 15 or Mon. Oct. 16. the artist will need to fill out an online application and submit an artist statement and portfolio. An application fee of $50 covers the application process—similar to applying to move into an apartment—and costs for a jury to review their art portfolio. 

The arts center spans 75,000 square feet with multiple gallery & event spaces, a 250-seat theater, an artist lounge, a cafe & catering kitchen, and a large outdoor sculpture garden. Co-developer Allan Gray hopes the Zhou Brothers Arts Center becomes an artistic and cultural institution that will bring visitors to the region.

“It’ll be one of the anchors of the jazz district,” says Gray. “But this is not just a project for 18th and Vine; what the Zhou Brothers are bringing is an arts center for Kansas City.” 

The Zhou brothers—ShanZuo Zhou and DaHuang Zhou—are themselves internationally renowned artists who left China and moved into the south side of Chicago in 1986. In 2004, the brothers opened the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, which helped to revitalize their Bridgeport neighborhood. 

“They were real pioneers for their neighborhood, attracting artists and other development,” says Gray. “What they did for Bridgeport is similar to what’s happening in the Crossroads.”

The Zhou B Arts Center of Kansas City will be the brothers’ second arts center in the US, and they intend to build programming and events around the needs of the artists in residence. Classes, workshops, exhibitions, and an artist of the month program are in the works for the  center. 

“We are intentionally developing the space in an organic way,” says Gray. “As artists come in, we want their voices and needs to be heard.”

Renovation of the Crispus Attucks School will include installation of a glass atrium.

Studio Spaces and Artist Support

The 45 studio spaces vary in size from 190 to 800 square feet. The studios offer 14 to 18-foot ceilings, with many featuring abundant natural light, while some in the basement level offer less light but are ideal for photographers and others. Gallery space will also be available.

Rent for the studios includes 24/7 secure access, parking, and utilities including air conditioning, heat, WiFi and electricity.

Artists in residence at the center will be able to set up a free profile on the center’s website, and the center will help facilitate the sale of artist’s works for a commission. 
Interested artists are encouraged to visit the Zhou Brothers Art Center’s website at for detailed application guidelines and to RSVP for the upcoming studio tours.

(L-R) Allan Gray, Kansas City partner on the Zhou Brothers Center, Dahuang Zuo, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and ShanZuo Zhou at the groundbreaking for the new Zhou Brothers Arts Center in October 2022.

Prior to joining The Community Voice, he worked as a reporter & calendar editor with The Pitch, writing instructor with The Kansas City Public Library, and as a contributing food writer for Kansas...