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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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Did You Know?

What to Consider when Advocating for Artist Space Development

The Urban Institute recently released two reports about the development of artist spaces. Artist Space Development: Making the Case and Artist Space Development: Financing were commissioned by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), as a part of its National Artists Space Initiative. The research addresses the development process, support systems, key players, finance strategies and challenges for the development of artist spaces.

Factors to take into account when advocating for artist space development in your community:

  • Location of the space - Is the property in an industrial, mixed use or a residential zone? Is the area designated for economic development?
  • Nature of the space - Does the property have historic value or designation? Does it require environmental remediation? Is the construction new?
  • Artist space development track record - Do artists, lenders, developers, funders and other involved parties have experience with artist space projects?
  • Advocates for development - Are artists organized and vocal in support of the project? Does the arts community see artist space as a priority? Does the project have the backing of politicians, funders or lenders?
  • Development intermediary - Is there an experienced agency or individual(s) who can bring all the needed parties together?
  • Political climate - Is the city trying to attract artists as residents or business owners? Do artists have financial or other incentives to locate there? Are funders focused on artist space needs?
  • Special designations that include artists - Are groups that may include artists, such as small business owners or low-income populations, being targeted for special programs?
  • Policy priorities intersecting with artist space development - Are there commitments to other issues such as the creative economy, creative clusters or historic preservation?

Artist Space Development: Making the Case was based on 23 case studies of prominent artist space projects in Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seattle and Tucson, where cases for support needed to be made to a range of gatekeepers. Based on these case studies, the report addresses how to advocate for artist space developments within the context of other policy priorities, such as art, community development and urban revitalization. The report details an approach to the subject by illustrating the following: what to consider when advocating for artist space, challenges and potential barriers for development, how to position artist space projects, the effects of artist space development and current shortcomings in the documentation and accountability of artists' spaces.

The research concludes that artist space development has momentum because the number of developments is increasing and interest in pursuing projects is on the rise. Artist space development currently benefits from a base of allies that identify the positive role and value of artists in society. The report warns that to ensure the issue of artist space is not just a passing fad in the context of community development, urban policy and civic-minded business, that efforts must be made to ensure that artist space development is a routine part of how people think of healthy communities and economies. To this end, work must continue to fully articulate the role and positive contributions of artists, and creativity in general, in communities and society.

Source: Maria Rosario Jackson and Florence Kabwasa-Green. Artist Space Development: Making the Case. Urban Institute. 2007. http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=1001176

For More Information: Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC): http://lincnet.net/
Christopher Walker. Artist Space Development: Financing. Urban Institute. 2007. http://www.urban.org/publications/1001175.html