A Space for Creativity in Boise
Story by Erika Heeren
Photos by Emma Thompson
The practice of free, artistic expression has long been touted as having a positive influence on public health, stress relief, and general community wellness. One collective in Boise has created an inclusive space designed to bring out the artist in everyone.
The Idaho Burner’s Alliance was founded in 2015 by a group of local professionals with a love of the arts. Together, they purchased and converted a building on Bond Street in Boise. Local artists, amateur artists, and members of the local community have been gathering in groups or as individuals to create and collaborate ever since.
“We had no idea how popular it would be, what kind of pieces would come out of it, and how much of a need there was for it. The unique thing about [Xanadu] is that this is the type of space where people can build things, they can get their hands dirty,” explains co-founder, Kaden Sinclar.
For Sinclair and the leadership at Idaho Burners Alliance, giving the membership total control over Xanadu and all associated projects was paramount – this sets the organization apart from other artistic spaces in the Treasure Valley.
“We give the community direct control over the space, and a voice on how we spend our money. It gives them a sense of ownership over the facility.”
Xanadu – or “Xu”, as the membership has affectionately named the facility – is continually changing to fit the needs of local artists. There is room for movement arts, gardening, sculpting, painting, building and art design, and more. The Idaho Burners Alliance also provides classes in these areas for those who just want to learn more about a certain medium.
To promote that sense of inclusivity, the Idaho Burners Alliance also hosts group projects like sculptures and installation art for multiple creatives to collaborate. For Sinclair, these projects have provided a glimpse into an underserved demographic in the Treasure Valley.
“It’s a great place for people who feel like they don’t belong – maybe they’re depressed, or suffer from PTSD – or have issues connecting with the community. This gives them a place and an opportunity to get involved with a group without judgement.”
The facility, and all of the Idaho Burners Alliance projects are funded by the group’s membership and donations from the community. Currently, patrons can use any portion of the building with an annual membership of $90, and private studios are available for an additional $20 per hour. You must be a member to reserve studio space.
The Idaho Burners Alliance also features a calendar for group projects, classes, and membership meetings on their website.
For the future, Sinclair and the Idaho Burners Alliance have big plans for growth to serve the Treasure Valley. Currently, the organization is working on a new project with a performance space, room for large-scale installations, and a gallery for individual pieces for Treasure Valley art-lovers to enjoy.
“We hope that it grows, we hope the community helps us get there. As much imagination as the people can pour into this place – we will accommodate,” says Sinclair.
For more information about Xanadu and the Idaho Burners Alliance, you can visit their website at www.idahoburnersalliance.org.