Though market-rate studio space is increasingly out of the reach of many artists, a number of programs and organizations in the city offer affordable work spaces on both a short and long-term basis.
And there are a variety of proposed solutions for creating more, from opening up public school facilities to artists to a recent push to re-institute commercial rent control. Organizations that focus on helping artists find space include:
Chasama, a nonprofit that has partnered with property owners to turn unused spaces into art studios and presentation sites since the 1990s, has about 120 visual art studios that are rented at affordable rates via an application process. Another program in the Bronx gives space to local artists for free in exchange for teaching. While turnover is rare — artists are allowed to stay as long as Chasama has a license agreement with the property owner — the organization adds between 20 and 50 new work spaces a year. “We’re always looking for property owners who are interested in working with us to make more work space in New York,” said founder and artistic director Anita Durst. “All of our spaces come by word of mouth.”
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is one of many organizations in the city that offer residencies. It has a nine-month studio residency program at 101 Greenwich Street for emerging artists and it recently launched a residency program on Governors Island with both dedicated and shared studio space.
BRIC, an arts organization based in Brooklyn, also has residency programs for emerging and midcareer artists that provide free shared studio spaces at 647 Fulton Street.
Smack Mellon, in Dumbo, has an 11-month residency program that provides six artists with private studio spaces ranging from 250 to 300 square feet.
ArtCondo, a real estate enterprise founded by artists with real estate backgrounds is planning to break ground on live/work condos for artists in the Melrose section of the South Bronx this March. Michele Gambetta, one of the two founders of the venture, said that eight artists and one nonprofit have invested in the project so far, which will have 24 live/work spaces and five work-only spaces ranging from 400 to 800 square feet, with what she hopes will be a community gallery on the first floor (there’s currently a Kickstarter for it). Condos are expected to cost between $250,000 and $600,000. “All the investors so far have been artists. We’re trying to cut out people who want high returns and make the spaces as simple and raw as possible. Artists don’t need luxury.”
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