Lawrence Creates Makerspace to host first-ever winter chautauqua

With a new year approaching fast, the Lawrence Creates Makerspace is bringing back an old tradition this weekend.

On Friday, the venue will host its first-ever Lawrence Winter Chautauqua during its monthly Lawrence Art Party.

If you go

What: Lawrence Art Party and Lawrence Winter Chautauqua

Where: Lawrence Creates Makerspace, 512 E. Ninth St.

When: Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Cost: Free

The original chautauquas emerged from an adult-education movement of the same name in the late 19th century. These events brought in speakers, teachers, musicians, politicians, preachers and other luminaries to rural communities across the country.

“For us, though, there’s another definition: when the community comes together to entertain each other,” said Eric Kirkendall, co-founder and director of Makerspace.

This new chautauqua will be decidedly less academic, Kirkendall said. Visitors can expect several five-minute performances, all delivered by fellow community members.

So far the lineup includes former Kansas University student and football player Topher Enneking, a spoken-word poet who will read his poem “Welcome to KU” along with an accompanying video that was shown to students during KU's Traditions Night in August.

Denise Low, a former Kansas Poet Laureate, and Lawrence author David Hann will also perform.

A chautauqua focuses on creativity of all kinds, said Makerspace gallery coordinator Lesa Weller.

In addition to several poets, musicians and visual artists already on the roster, organizers are also encouraging contributions from other fields, such as science, humanities and technology.

One presenter will even give a boomerang-throwing demonstration.

Weller said she’s planning to fill 30 slots, though that could change depending on how many submissions she receives in the next few days. Walk-ons are also welcome, she said.

“It’s a community tradition that needs to be brought back because it’s a sharing of abilities and people just wanting to give back to the community,” Weller said of chautauquas. “It represents community and what community is all about.”

In keeping with that spirit, Weller plans to keep the chautauqua as accessible as possible.

The performance area will be arranged like a “little cafe,” and the Makerspace will provide blankets for the audience to sit on. Snacks and drinks — including a keg — will also be on hand.

“We’re trying to make everything free on chautauqua night, so the only thing that won’t be free is the beer,” she said.

Those interested in performing can email the Makerspace at


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