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In 2003, an Urban Institute report concluded that lack of affordable space posed critical constraints in artists’ ability to pursue their work effectively. Scarcity of affordable space not only made it difficult for artists to work but also disrupted entire communities of artists who relied on each other for ideas and support. In response to this finding, this report looks at both a range of ways in which more affordable artist spaces can be created and the impact of artists’ spaces on neighborhoods and cities.
This report is the result of research conducted in 2004 and 2005 for
Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative dedicated
to increasing support for individual artists. An Urban Institute
study published in 2003 had identified the need for artists’ spaces as
one of critical challenges facing individual artists. In many cities and
neighborhoods, affordable spaces once occupied by artists had given
way to a rising tide of gentrification and escalating rents.In other
places, the low-incomes earned by artists put good-quality spaces in
which to live and work out of reach. Yet in some communities, efforts
by the private and public sector had helped artists find and renovate
spaces, sometimes on their own and sometimes aided by the work of
nonprofit and other developers.
To find out more about how these projects were carried out and the
kinds of support various actors need to implement them effectively,
LINC commissioned the Urban Institute to survey artists’ spaces
around the country and to visit seven communities in which spaces
had been developed. During these visits, researchers interviewed
those most involved with project design, development, and financing,
as well as individual artists and well-placed people throughout
the community who could provide informed opinions on how artists
spaces had been, and were being, created. The team talked with people
affiliated with 29 artists’ space projects, including studios and livework
spaces developed in a variety of buildings and neighborhoods.
In the report to follow, we discuss various aspects of artists’ space
In the first section, we outline the different types of artists’ spaces
we reviewed, including live-work and studio spaces, primarily, but
also variations on these two basic types. We also examine the different
types of developers of artist space development projects, showing
points of overlap and correspondence in their motivations and the
types of projects they develop.
In the second section, we examine project process: how artist space
projects are developed, the effect of local regulation, features of design
that project developers and occupants find important, and the different
types of ownership and occupancy arrangements that projects
In the third section, we discuss artist space project financing, including
projects costs and how these are influenced by various factors during
acquisition and construction, project financing and the need for subsidies
from public and philanthropic sources, and how different investors’
interests influence their willingness to supply the funding needed
to get projects built.
In the fourth section, we examine how the strength of local real estate
markets and local systems for the mobilization of capital, expertise,
and political clout for development of low-income communities
affects the overall costs and risks of investing in artists’ spaces.
In the fifth and final section, we outline some recommendations for
artists’ space development supporters as they consider actions to
promote due consideration of artists space needs in the communities
where they operate.
(End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.)
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