Community LIFT, partners tune up to open $365,000 Memphis Slim Collaboratory

The Memphis Music Magnet at Soulsville is an initiative that utilizes music, the music industry and the storied history of Stax Records as a catalyst for neighborhood transformation.
As part of that initiative, Community LIFT, in partnership with the University of Memphis, LeMoyne-Owen College CDC, Memphis Music Foundation, Hyde Family Foundations and ArtPlace America, has developed and implemented an innovative, arts-based neighborhood revitalization project in Soulsville with the physical manifestation being the Memphis Slim Collaboratory (collaborative + laboratory).
Construction is near completion and the one-time home of famed bluesman Memphis Slim will be feted in an open house during the Stax to the Max Festival on April 26.
Located at College and McLemore, the facility sits on land owned by the LOCCDC and leased by Community LIFT. As Soulsville is redeveloped in an atmosphere of education – Soulsville Charter School, Stax Music Academy and LeMoyne-Owen College are all in the neighborhood – the Collaboratory was designed with a spirit of learning.
It will offer rehearsal space, a training recording studio, computer lab, workshops and career training in the music industry. The facility will provide local artists with the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians, singers, songwriters, recording engineers, graphic designers and promoters through a Music Co-Operative.   
“We’re a learning center for pre-professionals and for college students that are just graduating, and even high school students as well,” said Leni Stoeva, creative placemaker for Community LIFT. “The idea is that it will be a community-based place but also will target local musicians from other neighborhoods in Memphis.”
The construction, at a cost of more than $365,000, was funded in part by grants from the Hyde Family Foundation ($10,000), the Assisi Foundation ($50,000) and a $144,000 grant from ArtPlace America, which also recently granted $350,000 to the Broad Ave. Arts District for the creation of an outdoor amphitheatre.
Future plans include purchasing and renovating nearby property as housing for national musicians and their families when they come to record and play locally while collaborating with Memphis-area musicians.
“In the same way that the Broad Ave. Arts District has been revitalized as an arts district,” said Stoeva, “What we’re trying to do with the Soulsville neighborhood is to turn it into a music district that focuses on musicians, has affordable housing, studio spaces, recording studios, rehearsal spaces, venues, record stores, stuff like that.”

by Richard J. Alley

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