Todd “Hutch” Hutchinson has long had a dream of opening a “gym for the creatives” in a downtown McKinney coffee shop.
Next month, that dream will become a reality.
The 18-year McKinney resident is gearing up to kick off the Independent Art House, located inside Filtered Coffee. Members of the art house will be able to join in workshops on topics ranging from scriptwriting, filmmaking and acting to songwriting and improv performance. Slated to provide a collaborative, “incubator” feel, the art house is expected to open in mid-May.
Today, Filtered Coffee closes at 6 p.m. on most days. Once the Independent Art House initiates activities, Hutchinson said, the space will transition into hosting art house members and those interested in seeing how the programs work until 9 or 10 p.m.
“You’ll probably see myself or one of the other members speaking about any sort of creative topic,” Hutchinson said, “or you’ll see somebody delivering a monologue on stage or doing a scene on stage, or we’ll have our songwriters circle workshop, you’ll see a bunch of people with guitars singing a song or playing a new lick that they created.”
His goal is also to provide a “live” atmosphere both during performances and workshop meetings.
“That’s why I’m not opposed to people coming in and grabbing something to drink and sitting down and watching the performance, because in a sense, they better get used to it anyway,” he said. “Your job is to perform in front of people, and so your job is also to be able to be creative while distractions are happening. And so to me, it’s a great atmosphere to get you kind of ready for that level of creativity if you’re going to pursue something like that.”
Hutchinson hopes to provide a feel that is more collaborative and less like a school or class.
Bringing his vision alive in McKinney is a chance to create an arts collective in the northern part of the Metroplex.
“McKinney to me already has a great artist community here, and I just love the downtown area, it’s one of my favorite downtown areas,” Hutchinson said.
In addition, he added, the city’s location central to Collin County and surrounded by such cities as Frisco, Allen and Prosper makes it a hub for area residents.
Hutchinson originally planned to launch the art house around the beginning of 2020 but was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His idea for the program came after his experience working in Hollywood, he said.
“I got the hands-on experience of what that looks like, and then later in my life when I started taking like with the classes and everything, I just found that it wasn’t as applicable as it should be in regards to actually the real world,” he said, “and so that started me thinking ‘How can I do something more collectively, and how can I do something more hands-on, and how can I do something to where people are in more of a real situation to build their creativity?’”
Membership to the program is open to anyone, he added, not just those pursuing careers as actors, filmmakers or writers. It is also open to people at all skill levels.
“I wanted also something that the person next door could come in and experience the same thing, have fun with it and just get better as a person, because a lot of us don’t have enough outlets,” Hutchinson said. “And so to me, creativity has always been one of the best outlets to get rid of things we stuff down. It’s a way to express an emotion without telling the story of that emotion.”
Hutchinson has scheduled an open house for the art house for 2-4 p.m. May 1 at Filtered Coffee, 218 E Louisiana St. More information is available at independentarthouse.com.