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NK STUDIOS founder Nika Kermani stands in front of the setting for her new multi-use venue, located at 417 W. Steuben St. 

new multi-use studio is set to be springing up close to downtown Bingen soon. Previously home to USAUTOCARE, the shop-turned-studio will provide plenty of space for artistic endeavors.

The business NK STUDIOS will be operating on an open source model, allowing class instructors, artists and community members the ability to rent the space as they see fit, according to founder Nika Kermani.

“It’s really important to me that people can feel like they can make a living off their creativity,” Kermani said.

This is Kermani’s first business, she tells Columbia Gorge News. Kermani has taken over her father’s auto shop, located at 417 W. Steuben St., upon his retirement to set up a workspace that allows her and community members to explore their artistic side. Kermani grew up in the area, learning to dance first with Annette Warner at the Mountain View Grange No. 98. She then took classes at the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy, later carrying on as a member of the Trojan Dance Force at the University of Southern California. After college, she found work as a social worker and dance instructor at Columbia Gorge Dance Academy. 

Kermani has taken her experience instructing dance and put it to the test by starting to instruct students through Zoom, a video conferencing platform, allowing her to social distance while continuing to teach others. About dancing, Kermani said she wanted to share her passion with the community. 

“You don’t decide what your passion is … it’s what I want to be doing with my time, it’s something that I can instantly get into,” Kermani said.

Taking the idea of running a studio like this and turning it into a reality required funds, so Kermani set up a Kickstarter, initially asking for $20,000 to remodel the building. With the funds raised she plans to install studio mirrors, curtains, a sprung dance floor and she also plans to paint the facility. Soundboks, a European audio equipment manufacturer, donated sound equipment to Kermani for use in the new studio.

“There’s a need for a space where we can gather and unify,” Kermani said

The Kickstarter began earlier this month. According to Kermani, the goal of $20,000 was reached within 24 hours, thanks to over 200 individual small donations.

Kermani said the reason why her Kickstarter has been successful is clear: “People want to support the arts.

“In Klickitat County, we don’t have a lot of arts programming for youth,” Kermani said. Earlier in the year she organized a scholarship program to provide ten students with free entry to her dance classes. The NK Choreo Dance Scholarship Fund met its fundraising goals in less than two weeks and provided dance scholarships to youths from “historically underserved groups.”

Kermani has an anticipated opening date of Nov. 1. She is still working to set the structure of her business and perform the remodel. She said she plans to host community workdays for students to make them feel like a part of the project.

Kermani tells Columbia Gorge News that this is a new experience for her.

“On a daily basis, I’m pretty overwhelmed. It almost doesn’t feel real. But when I take a step back, I see all the progress. I’m so excited and hopeful. There’s so many ideas that have yet to be,” Kermani said. “This space is for everyone. It’s exciting to think that my ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s exciting thinking about all the things that have yet to be imagined.”

NK STUDIO’s Kickstarter is still a couple weeks away from closing. To learn more, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/nkstudios/nk-studios-movement-dance-art-and-community.

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