Weaving a space becomes issue for City Arts

If you were planning on learning how to weave at the City Arts building, you may be out of luck.

The City Arts weaving program may be shutting down.

After Dec. 1, there will be no public access to classes for weavers and spinners in the City Arts building, according to a press release issued last week by Susan de Wit, past president of the Wichita Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild.

“This is dire (terrible, dreadful, appalling, frightful, awful, atrocious, grim, alarming),” de Wit’s press release read.

The weaving program has been ongoing for more than three decades.

John D’Angelo, director of Arts and Cultural Services for the City of Wichita, said City Arts had to make a business decision.

“We are looking at the numbers and what opportunities we have for expansion,” D’Angelo said. “Fibers takes up a lot of room. One of the challenges is space. Half of the looms are empty. We may not be able to afford to continue doing this.”

In 2016, 67 students were enrolled in weaving, D’Angelo said, with eight students to a class.

“We are open to maybe something we can come up with collectively. Maybe the looms could go elsewhere but space-wise, their space (weavers) is not driven by students,” he said. “Where photography is red hot. And where do I put those students?”

DeWit said the Wichita Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild has about 50 members.

D’Angelo met with the weavers Tuesday night at the City Arts building.

“They all expressed passion for weaving,” D’Angelo said. “We challenged them to come to us with solutions and improve the business side to get more students in there.

“The looms are the challenge because of their physical mass,” D’Angelo said. “It has nothing to do with not being supportive of fibers. In the past we have talked about some of the looms going to the Indian Center or Cowtown. I’m not saying weaving is off the table but the reality is that type of space is difficult for us to continue to dedicate to that art form.

“If there is a convincing argument, we may delay looking at other options. But right now, their numbers don’t support it.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner