Chicago Housing Authority to bring artist housing to South Side

Natalie Moore, WBEZ Radio, 10/18/11

Renowned Chicago artist Theaster Gates has turned abandoned buildings into cultural gems in the economically struggling Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. As Gates continues to marry art and urban planning on the South Side, he's now turning to nearby public housing that's been vacant since 2006. Gates, Brinshore Development and the Chicago Housing Authority are redeveloping 32 public housing units on 70th Street. The scattered-site CHA housing will be turned into a mixed-income community: a third public, a third affordable and a third market-rate units. Artists will be recruited to live in the apartments. There will be a shared artist workspace for programming and volunteer work with youth.  "Thinking about the role that artists play in redeveloping neighborhoods so the artists that are interested in living in this space, we'd like to build in a component of service. You can call it volunteer but I'd really like to think of it as an extension of how we live in our neighborhoods," Gates said. The idea of using art as ammunition against blight has taken hold across the country. Noted economist Richard Florida advocated that artists - or the creative class, as he calls them - can help revitalize cities. Gates agrees - to a point. "The creative class that Richard Florida talks about, I don't think he's actually talking about some of the folk that we have identified as creative or that live in this space," Gates said. "It's true that creatives and people who are interested in creativity and design and architecture have substantial impacts on neighborhoods. But I don't think they'd necessarily be attracted to living on Dorchester. Part of what I'm excited about is that there's a whole segment of the creative class that's not been asked to be players in city. I'm talking about black artists, artists of color," he said. CHA has approved the developer and groundbreaking is scheduled to start in 2012.


Affordable artist housing coming to NYC's Harlem neighborhood  Alison Wade, Art Avocado blog, 10/27/11

The PS 109 Artspace, located in Harlem, is being implemented by Artspace, a non-profit artist housing developer with extensive experience creating affordable live-work spaces in such varied locations as Houston, Reno, and Brainerd, Minnesota (a town that fans of the movie Fargo will recognize). Though projects vary based on local resources and needs, generally each development works from the adaptive reuse model -- taking unused available buildings and turning them into affordable live/work spaces for artists. The projects are funded through tax credits, especially Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Preservation Tax Credits. When complete, PS 109 will consist of 90 affordable spaces for artists and their families. In addition, most Artspace projects include community space for outside programming and arts organizations; PS 109 is no exception, as it will provide 10,000 square feet of space for arts organizations. That's a big number in New York City. So PS 109 won't just help individual artists who live there, but outside artists and organizations in need of programming space. It will also provide the community with a local hub for art activity. New York has a reputation for taking advantage of art as an economic developer, from the organic gentrification of SoHo and Williamsburg to public art installations [such as] The Gates. (In fact, New York was the home of the first affordable artists' housing development, Westbeth Artist Housing. It's still the world's largest, housing nearly 500 people.) Despite this, New York's arts community can stand to benefit from PS109. If you've been to New York you know that it can be astonishingly expensive. And for artists to create art, especially visual artists, dedicated space is important. That space is pretty hard to come by at an affordable price these days. So while many artist housing programs with economic development goals might focus on attracting artists to an area, New York's goal is to retain them by helping them afford the city's notoriously high rents. By helping keep a creative core in New York City, and specifically Manhattan, the city is at less risk for becoming a cultural playland available only to those who can afford high rents and ticket prices.


In East Haddam CT, Goodspeed Musicals to open new housing for visiting artists

Jacob Coakley, Stage Directions, 11/7/11

You've heard a lot in recent years about theatres spending millions to build fancy new theatre buildings, but I believe this is the first I've heard of a theatre building new houses for their artists. On Monday, Nov. 14, Goodspeed Musicals will cut the ribbon on their new Artists Village, a collection of 17 new homes of varying sizes offering 65 fully-furnished bedrooms (each with their own private bath) for their artists. Goodspeed will use these home to offer better accommodations to visiting artists, but they'll also use the village to offer more time to writing teams to work on a project, and the houses will be an anchor for economic development in the East Haddam neighborhood.  [This] Artists Village [has] a total cost of $5.5 million. Currently, Goodspeed owns 9 old houses in the East Haddam Village where its actors, directors, designers and technical staff stay during rehearsals and performances. Unfortunately these old houses were not designed for this style of living. Seasoned professionals live in cramped, boarding house-style quarters where they are frequently asked to share a living space with as many as 13 other people or a bathroom with 3 or 4 strangers. Several years ago, Goodspeed determined that it was essential to build attractive housing that provides comfort, privacy and proximity to the Goodspeed Opera House. The Artists Village initiative represents the largest capital project in Goodspeed history. It will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for future economic development in East Haddam. The town has future plans to redevelop the riverfront parcel which currently houses the town hall into a lively mix of retail shops and restaurants. The older houses Goodspeed plans to sell or rent once the project is complete are contiguous to the town site which allows for even greater opportunities for development. The result is a transformed village poised to become a featured destination for both tourists and local residents.


Across the US, smaller cities and towns have artist relocation programs

The Abundant Artist blog

What's the best place for artists to live? New York is too expensive. The traffic in Los Angeles is terrible. But what do you do if you are an actor, a dancer, or a painter and you want to make your mark? Move to Paducah, Kentucky. Why should you move there? Because they'll bribe you. In 2000 the leaders of Paducah got together to figure out how to improve the image of their town. They wanted to revitalize the community. The solution? Invite artists to move to the city - an artist relocation program. Nine years and over $6 Million in investments later Paducah has become an artist haven and a model for how other communities can build their own artist communities. There is a boom in artist housing communities going on in the USA. As artists are priced out of the New Yorks and the LA's, and as the Internet makes it easier for artists to get the word out about their work, smaller cities and towns are becoming gathering places for the artistic elite. In addition to Paducah, these cities have started artist relocation programs: Bradenton, FL; Covington, KY; Cumberland, Maryland; Chattanooga, TN; Cleveland, OH; Collinwood, OH; Detroit, MI: Johnstown, PA; Lowell, MA; Oil City, PA; Pawtucket, RI; and St. Louis, MO. Can't bear to leave the big city? The Seattle Housing Levy has funded three apartment buildings with units affordable to and designed for working artists. Fort Point Arts Community is an advocacy organization that helps Boston area artists obtain studio space. And Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Center provides subsidized workspace for visual artists in Manhattan.

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