Kimberly Wyant

KRaP Art is moving again. Kimberly Wyant, its scrappy founder, says this time she’s downsizing, forming a nonprofit and sticking to her original mission of providing a place for teens and young adults to learn about art and create it in an unstructured environment. “If we have music, it will be small house concerts and acoustic acts,” she said.

Wyant said she’s not ready to disclose the new spot since negotiations are ongoing, but she hopes to move in October. The place she’s looking at is in the downtown area and not far from the Polk Museum of Art, she said.

Wyant announced on Instagram that renovation costs are forcing her to leave the warehouse she has rented on a part of East Main Street that city officials are positioning as a design district.

She also used the Instagram post to announce a silent auction of donated art objects being held on Facebook to help her recoup costs. Wyant said she’s invested a combined $25,000 in the current KRaP Art location and the previous one.

Building owner Dean Boring “is very gracious. He’s not forcing me out at any time. He’ll give me the time I need,” she said.

Likewise, she said, city officials have been flexible.

Nine days after KRaP Art’s July 9 grand opening, city officials ordered the building vacated and gave Wyant 60 days to comply with building codes, including adding fire suppression and upgrading the electric system.

Wyant met soon after that with representatives of several city departments, and she was allowed to continue operating for 60 days as long as occupancy of the building stayed below 49.

While the 60-day period ends Sept. 17, Wyant said she’s been told she might be able to continue operating a bit longer because she has taken steps to improve safety.

Wyant’s focus now is on raising funds and moving. Bids are coming in on the art that’s being auctioned and new works are still being donated she said.

Wyant also said a GoFundMe campaign for KRaP Art is still active, and she expects donations to increase when she announces her new venue. Potential donors had been reluctant to give when the focus was on upgrading a building her business didn’t own, she said earlier.

One of the biggest changes is that the new KRaP Art will no longer host the punk, rock and jazz shows that were promoted by Clifford Parody and his Swan City Sounds.

“I think Clifford has gotten enough momentum, that if he takes it and runs with it he can be very successful,” Wyant said.

While KRaP Art will no longer host larger concerts, Wyant is planning to add a permaculture element that will teach people the basics of sustainable organic landscaping and agriculture.

Wyant also said she is taking steps to form a non-profit organization, KRaP Art Foundation Inc., that will oversee the operation.

Now discontinued, concerts at KRaP Art's current location drew large crowds.

| David Dickey Jr.

Soon after the July building inspections, Wyant said she had read the city’s fire code, but discovered later she misunderstood what it meant for her business.

Also interviewed at that time, City Manager Tony Delgado said the lesson for others is, “Let people know if you’re going to get (a building or renovation project) started, come talk to us” and make sure you know the requirements.

Should the city have reached out to Wyant since her move had been a high-profile one and Wyant had posted lots of photos of her venue and its large stage on social media?

The previous KRaP Art incarnation was smaller in scale, Delgado responded, and the city anticipated the new one would be similar.

Wyant learned last September she would have to move KRaP Art from its original home at 454 E. Main St. because the building she had been in was going to be demolished to accommodate parking for the project to renovate the Lakeland Cash Feed building into Catapult 2.0.

Officials with Lakeland Economic Development Council took the lead in helping Wyant find a new home. She looked at several locations and settled on the warehouse at 938 E. Main St. that she is now vacating.

Wyant sounds more optimistic than she did after she was visited by building inspectors in July. At the time she said the lesson she had learned was, “Never assume people have my best interest at heart.”

Now her words are more sanguine: “We’ve all learned from it. Now I hope we can go forward and continue building a great city.”

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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