Sundance Square – Bringing Life to Downtown with Local Businesses
Words by Scotlyn Ogle
Since the Bass Brothers Enterprises bought the property in the 1970’s, Sundance Square has been a staple for Fort Worth visitors and locals alike. Now, Sundance is continuing to bring life to Downtown by showcasing local talent, whether that be artists, musicians, or entrepreneurs.
One of the ways Sundance is bringing community to Downtown Fort Worth this year is through their Big Idea initiative, which opened earlier this year.
The challenge called for passionate, local entrepreneurs who had ideas for businesses, but didn’t know how to get started.
Sundance will choose the top business ideas, and guide them as they launch their shops right there in Sundance Square. They will help them get started and offer them any support they need in order to set them up for long-term success.
“It’s not a handout, it’s a partnership,” Ruth Meharg, Sundance Square’s Community Advocate, says. “It’s a kickstart to a solid foundation, into a successful business.”
The idea is to get more local businesses downtown, to add to the growing number as the Downtown community continues to thrive.
“They are going to be somebody who you can form a connection with, even when you are going in for a shopping experience,” Meharg says. “We are excited to bring in so many of those people.”
The pilot program, which helped open storefronts such as Urban Plantology, Coleccion Mexicana, and Union Station, proved to be a success, and the Big Idea winners can be expected to be announced this summer.
Another project Sundance took on this year was the inaugural Fort Worth Art Fair, which took place April 7th-10th.
The Fort Worth Art Fair was launched after Ed and Sasha Bass, who own Sundance Square, saw a need for local artists to get more work during the COVID pandemic.
During the height of the pandemic, the Basses launched a grant for local artists who lost work due to art fairs and galleries being shut down, but immediately saw an outpour of talented artists applying.
“They really started to see the wealth of talent that is in Fort Worth, and after that, they started to find ways to create opportunities for artists,” Meharg says. “It’s one thing to give out a one time grant, but another to create multiple employment opportunities.”
The art fair went on to feature artists, chefs, and musicians, all of whom were local, to share their crafts with the city.
“On Friday, I looked out over the crowd and started crying, because there was so many types of people out there,” Meharg says. “We want Downtown to be for everyone, so to see that happen at the Fort Worth Art Fair was exciting, showing a representation of the city.”
Beyond the Art Fair, Sundance also features multiple art galleries, including Love Texas Art, which features Texas artists, Dang Good Candy, which features local and up-and-coming artists, and Bale Creek Allen Studio, which shows international artists, including contemporary artist Kiki Smith.
Sundance strives to demonstrate what makes Fort Worth unique – and their desire to showcase that doesn’t stop with their major events.
A few of the other things that Sundance offers for the community include art classes (which are free to all ages and skill levels), dance and yoga classes, and live music.
“Fort Worth has always had that small town feel that people talk about,” Meharg says. “I think that while we are still keeping that community feel, we are growing in a lot of ways that are exciting, and giving people more reasons to go out, to come to Fort Worth, to stay and live in Fort Worth – Community becomes more connected.”
Photos by Velton Hayworth
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