Step into a downtown bar and you can buy a beer, at a restaurant a meal will be served, and at a barbershop, your hair will be trimmed.
But at Evoke, downtown Sun Prairie’s community studio space, visitors can expect the unexpected.
Owner Erica Beckman says even she doesn’t know what the space will host, and that’s the whole point.
“There are so many creative people out there and this studio is a blank slate that needs people with ideas,” Beckman says as points out the features of the 1,100 square foot studio at 202 E. Main St.
Evoke, is just fresh off from hosting the Holiday Makers Market on Black Friday, and Beckman says the space has already piqued people’s interest. So far it’s morphed into a yoga studio with instructors Pete and Amy hosting donation-based classes.
The studio is vintage downtown with its landmark brick wall interior. Beckman has opened up the space by taking down a wall, repainting, and uncovering the original wooden floors. The front windows look out over Main Street with lots of daylight streaming in.
Beckman, who co-owns Right Bauer brewpub just down the block with husband Martin McNally, has gauged downtown’s business atmosphere during the last two years. She, like other business owners, wants a performance venue, an art gallery or entertainment venue to complement the shops, restaurants, and bars downtown.
She’s already received great feedback from downtown businesses on what they want to see at Evoke, and how they can be part of it.
“That has been the fun part to engage with other business owners on how to get people downtown for more than eating, drinking and shopping,” Beckman said.
Beckman, a lab coordinator at MATC, minored in painting in college and wants to have painting workshops that end with an art gallery night.
“I would like downtown Sun Prairie to become an art district with gallery nights, like what they do in the Madison,” she said.
When Beckman lived in the Twin Cities she volunteered for Free Arts Minnesota, a program hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters, for kids to express themselves through art. That’s another idea she has for Evoke.
Musicians can also book the studio for performances and impromptu public jam sessions.
Evoke is also set to host birthdays, workshops, meetings or just about anything else, Beckman says.
Would-be entrepreneurs are encouraged to use Evoke for pop-up markets to gauge interests in their products.
“There may be people out there that want to open a business but don’t know what response they will get. Here,” Beckman said. “They can try it out.”
Evoke’s rental rates are $35 for two hours, $70 for four hours and $100 for a full day. Food can be brought in or catered and tables and equipment can be rented.
Beckman said rental rates are low-cost so more people can afford to rent the space.
“This is not a money-making business,” she said. “The money that I make will go back into improving the studio.”
Beckman’s vision for Evoke is a place for community members to gather and for people to share what they have to offer.
“Everyone has a talent and interest in something,” she said. “Evoke is all about getting that out of people and see what they can bring.”
Evoke, 202 E. Main St. in downtown Sun Prairie. Find out more at www.evokesunprairie.com