Red Ink started in Palo Alto, California, when ad agency DMNA decided to donate their unused office space (they were hit hard when the dot-com bubble burst) to artists free of charge rather than having it sit vacant.
DMNA put the word out, selected eight promising artists to occupy the space, and Red Ink Studios was born. The artists understood that the group could be disbanded at any time should the space be leased.
After nearly a year in Palo Alto, Red Ink Studios was welcomed to San Jose. Then, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency invited Red Ink to The City where they now occupy three spaces downtown in the Mid-Market district. "The professionalism of Red Ink Studios, along with their dedication to being a part of the neighborhood, lends confidence to landlords who might otherwise be apprehensive," said Lisa Zayas-Chien of San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.Flint is Red Ink's first location outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Today, Red Ink Studios has expanded its mission beyond inhabiting temporary spaces. Art has now become a force that revitalizes. From art studios and gallery spaces, new ideas have grown. In addition to the three locations in downtown San Francisco, Red Ink Studios has developed other types of programs to benefit communities. For example, Red Ink in the Classroom brings art back into schools affected by cutbacks.
I don't see any reason why this model would not work here in St. Louis. I can think of a few locations that would be absolutely perfect for a St. Louis location of Red Ink Studios. A similar idea is underway at Crestwood Plaza, but something like this works so much better in an urban environment than in a failing suburban shopping mall.