Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Economy and Affordable Live/Work Spaces

The Economy and Affordable Live/Work Spaces

In this time of economic downturn, the Arts are seen as a way to revitalize communities by creating audience, involving our children, protecting and valuing cultural heritage, and reaching out to community to participate in projects. The Arts metaphorically till the earth in preparation for financial growth.

SDVAN is lucky to be one of the few non-profits confident we can maintain all of our programs with no cut backs. We budget with existing funds and not projected ones. We have found that the financial climate has made it easier to form collaboration, which is one of our major goals. We have a loyal base of volunteers which remain excited and dedicated. In fact, we see this as an excellent time to widen our scope and influence and show how important the visual arts are to our community. The county wide
Little & Large promotion is a perfect example of this growth.

Affordable Live/Work Spaces
Abridged and adapted from an Article by
Kelly Bennett for Voice of San Diego

We see it time and time again. Artists move into an area which is affordable for them which usually means quite low rents. They energize the community, draw crowds which draw new businesses. Then property prices go up and the artists can no longer afford to live in that community and have to move on.

Naomi Nussbaum of
The Synergy Art Foundation, and Mario Torero, a Chicano Park artist could see this pattern repeating it self and decided to form a project BL./EV (for Barrio Logan/East Village and pronounced as Believe) to try to build up this area for artists and make sure that when they succeeded in creating a new art district, artist might remain long term. Cheryl Nickel joined the group as an artist also passionate about this cause.

Earlier this year this core group joined with the North Park and El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement/Arts Districts who are also interested in affordable artist and arts organization space. With funding from the
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) the fee was paid for ArtSpace, a non-profit property development organization out of Philadelphia to speak about their organization. Many ideas were generated at this meeting and although ArtSpace is a rather expensive choice for property development, their format for encouraging creative centers could be adapted for San Diego.

The BL/EV group wants to take a lead in creating permanent, affordable artist live/work space to attract and keep artists in their downtowns. There are a variety of ways this can happen and each would evolve organically and in accordance with the needs of the artists involved.:

  • Fixed lower rents subsidized by city, state, federal (tax credit not taken advantage of yet in our county), and private funds.
  • Lease to own options for those wanting to invest and reap the benefits,
  • Family options and Cooperatives

    Beyond work/live space there could be other facilities including the following examples:
  • An exhibition space, a performance space, perhaps even a community organic garden.
  • A community center or even a specialized museum to acknowledge the cultural heritage of the community.
  • Artists' support services such as . printing facilities, recording studios, framing shop, etc.
  • Other creative enterprises which support local small-scale economic development, mass transit, and emphasizing local character.
  • Affordable low-income housing would be part of the centers, thus helping retain the socioeconomic and ethnic character.

    Although the initial focus is the Barrio Logan East Village district, those nearby urban areas such as North Park, El Cajon Blvd., City Heights are all areas where these plans could be seeded. Elsewhere in the county, for example El Cajon, San Ysidro, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, there is also an interest in creating arts districts.

    The results of these creative centers would be increased community pride and economic growth. For poorer neighborhoods, this means artists need an opportunity to grow economically with the creative businesses in their neighborhoods. For more affluent areas, artists can help to renew creative elements in neighborhoods, bring appreciation of local character and culture, assure aesthetic quality, support economic development and aid with arts education. These are all core needs of the creative class (as described by Richard Florida), which comprises about one-third of the work force in the most successful cities and is the sector that will define successful, dynamic cities of the future,

    Our biggest challenge is the high cost to rent or purchase space together with the limits spent on art in San Diego, which help support artists with sales of art. San Diego government and civic leaders must realize that the best investments in the future are not giant ballparks, but are the much less costly, much more cost effective investments in supporting the creative economy.


  1. Well done on starting a SDVAN art blog

  2. I think all the information you posted was thoughtful and valid. Many times we want to come up with a "SOLUTION" but there are as many solutions as there are situations and since you've listed a TON in the blog there are a myriad of solutions as well. I will say to you, that I found a couple puzzle pieces missing that can be added to what is there:

    1) The premise of two art markets: "Collector" and "Decorator." I find this a valuable tool (as described by Lisa Lodeski Art Consultant). Artists need to basically know what marketplace they are marketing to and go forward with a clear picture. And galleries, museums, et al...also need to understand what they are buying. Do people (artists and buyers) that if an artist what's to be "collected" that they may not be able to sell for a while? (and therefore) need to have OTHER viable ways of making money? (unless they are celebrity status. Compare this to the millions of actors who need to keep up their day jobs while working on their theater passions at night. The Angelina - Pitts of the world are a very small number. So, effectively, people with passions for art can not expect to be celebrity... except but a few. Then take the commercial artists, the stylists, the decorator artists of the world: creating pretty art to hang over couches, logos to represent businesses, murals for sides of buildings and the rest. They can make a living if they have a clear sense of their skills, marketability and perseverance in conducting themselves as a professional in an area of business. They pay taxes, business licenses and subscribe to ethics.

    2) The concept of "personal expression" vs. ART. Long ago, 20 years ago, when people were fighting over what is public art and what is art, I wrote a treatise that i can send you on the subject. Basically it says that although ALL ART = EXPRESSION "that the converse IS NOT TRUE. And, that is the crux of the our problem in the art world and understanding why there is sooooooo much stuff that passes as ART and mixes everyone up. The resulting consequence has led to disaster in the Art Market. It has led to an inability to purchase art and an inability for buyers to buy and an inability for artists to create. No one knows anymore what ART is!
    Art is not one thing, not one judgement, but is many things. It is a matrix of visual, aesthetic, creative, human, technical skill sets, and CRITERIA that makes it ART....
    Self Expression is NOT dependent on CRITERIA. Piss in a bottle. And you've created "self expression" and something very "low" on the "ART" scale. Why? Because when one uses criteria to judge what maybe considered art, one finds that pissing in a bottle scores very low in some area like aesthetics and technical skills. So, it's more readily categorized PROPERLY under Self Expression and not ART. Another example is by saying something passionate and exciting and incredible about the Political System. Why isn't that Art? It's Self Expression and it "changes people (another component of what some say constitutes art). Why not? Because it has no Aesthetic component. It's a form of self expression, not Art. Similar is Conceptual Art....sometimes Conceptual Art misses any technical skill-sets completely. Taking art that others have created, lumping it together with no critical creative skill sets...but entirely for the emphasis of Concept – once again brings it lower on the matrix of Art. It is a FORM of Art.

    3) Every Artist should have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and use it as a source book for objectifying Quality. It should be the industry Bible along with The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook ( ). It deals with ALL arts occupations and covers everything from ethics to contracts, et al. If everyone did this, we would all know how to act with integrity and support.

    4) We can only blame our selves for the contribution we are making to the situation. Until we stand up and say we are NOT giving our ideas away for free and we stand together in support to make art buyers in Public Art, Commercial Arts, Gallery Arts, etc., aware that WE HAVE STANDARDS no one else is going to protect us and take us seriously. Where are are our Art Leaders?


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