By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire December 6, 2013 at 11:17AM
Rex Ranch, a historic 50-acre property developed in the Sonoran desert of Arizona in the 1880s and vacant since 2012, has grand plans to become the next non-profit cultural arts institution -- with residencies, workshops and public programs -- if it can raise enough money.
Save Rex Ranch, a new nonprofit organization, has formed in order to raise money online through crowd funding to purchase the property and turn it into a world-class institute.
"We're trying for the greatest comeback since Lazarus," said Joseph Beyer, who is Volunteer Director of the project and also works for the Sundance Institute (which is not affiliated with this project). The project also boasts an impressive board of creative advisers (or as the web site calls them "cool people involved.")
The plan is for Rex Ranch to be an inter-disciplinary creative breeding ground for artists, thinkers, designers and scientists.
"Rex Ranch can become a Southwest mecca for creative leaders, artists and scientists alike. Through fellowships and labs, we can offer great thinkers an inspiring landscape to pursue their ideas and innovations," reads the campaign page.
In spirit at least, it sounds similar to a famous arts organization that's based in Park City, Utah.
"I would never in a million years compare this to what Redford has done and continues to do, but there's a similarity in the spirit of tying big ideas to a place that has a home and a center," said Beyer.
The campaign to Save Rex Ranch is accepting donations on Rally.org, a crowdfunding site which has committed to promoting and advising the funding campaign along the way. So far, they've raised more than $19,000 towards their goal of $734,480, which they need to raise by December 16 in order to purchase the property.
Beyer said that if the project succeeds, it could start hosting people as early as July. "The good news about that place is that the grounds are so sprawling and there are so many different rooms, but there's one set of rooms that were built in the 1980s that are in pretty good shape," said Beyer.
There is already an application process on the web site, and nearly 70 people have already applied for a residency (which is open to dancers, writers, musicians, urban planners, mixologists (!) and just about anyone with a project they need time and space to pursue) -- which could run anywhere from a couple of nights to a month or so.
Find out more about Rex Ranch here.