Artist Housing Projects (Updated with More Links!)

artist-housing-drawings1

Image via Ledbetter Architect

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.

What’s that, you say? Where is Paducah? It’s in Kentucky. Why should you move there? Because they’ll bribe you.

Artist Housing Projects

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.

“The Artist Relocation Program is about artist ownership, thus giving the artists a vested interest in our community. To date we have relocated seventy artists who have taken us up on our financial and cultural incentives.” – Paducaharts.com

These incentives include money for relocating, grants for purchasing or building homes, and promises of business coaching and new venues for the artists. Paducah made good on those promises and they are now the example for best places for artists to live.

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.

Companies That Sponsor Artist Housing and Urban Revitalization Projects

Artspace Projects, Inc - A nonprofit organization that purchases, renovates, and manages spaces that are used for artist housing and urban revitalization.

The Ford Foundation – Announced in 2010 that they would put $100 Million toward the building of new artspaces.

Partners for Livable Communities – A Washington DC-based nonprofit with the goal of developing livable communities around the country.

Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture - another nonprofit with the goal of helping Cleveland revitalize through funding the arts.

Artist Housing Project Across the Country

In addition to Paducah, these cities have started artist relocation programs:

Bradenton, FL- The Village of the Arts was founded by the Arts Guild of Manatee, and comprises approximately 35 arts-related businesses, many of which are also live/work spaces. The Downtown Development Agency administers two grants for homeowners, a facade grant for improvement to the front of a structure and a chain link fence replacement grant. 

Covington, KY- The Covington Commission has rezoned many commercial spaces for live/work galleries and studios. Additionally, they offer lots of financing options and tax incentives to help artists purchase and develop these spaces, as well as a flexibility that allows for “comparison shopping” of other like programs around the nation.

Cumberland, Maryland – Cumberland’s Allegany Arts Council has created a very interesting relocation program. Complete with relocation incentives, the Arts and Entertainment district of Cumberland aims to upscale its town by bringing talented and hard working artists in to revitalize the district.

Chattanooga, TN – Forgivable mortgages, financial assistance, and career development training available for artists who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help build the cultural revolution that Chattanooga is developing. The program is entering the third stage of its development (no word on whether there will be a fourth) and may or may not be currently accepting applications for further residents.

Cleveland, OH - Artist Katherine Chilcote has a non-profit public art organization called Building Bridges. They are focusing on renovating abandoned houses for artists to live in and turning abandoned buildings into studios and galleries.

Collinwood, OH - Arts Collinwood has a program for helping artists set up and sustain businesses in this Midwestern town.

Detroit, MI - No relocation programs exist in Detroit at the moment, but artists are buying houses for as little as $100 and turning them into artist studios and live/work spaces.

Johnstown, PA - The Kernville Arts District has another relocation program. Great terms for mortgages for artists who are willing to relocate to Johnstown.

Lowell, MA- The Appleton Mills Apartments offer affordable live/work lofts for artists in a remodeled textile mill, complete with galleries, freight elevators, sink rooms, and basement storage. Their current application period is up, but check back for the next opportunity! An added bonus: Applewood is really not that far from Boston, and much more liveable.

Oil City, PA- A combination of financing packages, live/work spaces in historic Victorians, business support for artists, and an already-established arts scene make Oil City a city worth looking into. Check out the National Transit Art Studios to see what this community has to offer.

Pawtucket, RI - Thanks to Kate for mentioning this program. Competitive rental rates and a dedicated Cultural Affairs Officer to act as a contact person and advocate are all part of Pawtucket’s comprehensive cultural plan.

St. Louis, MO - An abandoned shopping mall is offering studio space for as little as $100 per month.

Can’t Bear to Leave the Big City?

The Seattle Housing Levy- The Seattle Housing Levy has funded three apartment buildings with units affordable to and designed for working artists.

Fort Point Arts Community, Inc.- An advocacy organization that helps Boston area artists obtain studio space.

Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Center- Provides subsidized workspace for visual artists in Manhattan.

Artist Housing Projects Across the Country

Do you live in an artist housing project or do you know of one not on this list? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.

62 comments
Lauraborialis
Lauraborialis

Just north of Cabo on the baja sur peninsula, mexico, in a small, tropical, seaside community there is a studio apartment with sea of Cortez view on 2nd story is nearby community market, and annual art festivals of todos santos, San Antonio, and Los bar riles at low or barter cost. Must like animals and plants.

jodi bonassi
jodi bonassi

I am interested in finding an affordable live/ work space to create art in an art community. Great with people and kids- can teach drawing and painting in the community, create art and live. I am a mature female artist but in great shape physically and a big kid spiritually.

Chester
Chester

Hi there al my names chester and im going threw a hard time..I need help on some input on were to go.I currently live in Txs and as I love it theirs not enough going on for me.Im constantly creating and I need a city that embraces that.Also with TONS of people doing the same.I need to be overwhelmed with other artists bad..Im really tired of no input on mine or no one who shares the passion I do.I live and breathe for my music for 15 years..Ive been feeling portland OR and could use any input about there.As in were I should live the scen.I do not want another plastic utopia as I call them to go andlive..I want to make a living at what I do just to get by and I know I can in the right place.If not i can help people learn ceartin instruments or even pointers on areas ive been doing for years...Thats a hole other thing but anyone anyone please please....Anyone can you help me?

Cheryl Nickel
Cheryl Nickel

Presently, We have 36 studios and 5 work/live affordable units in downtown San Diego . Our goal is to build an arts center with affordable 25-30 work/live and 20-30 studios

Emilie Parker
Emilie Parker

I'm pulling together a group of artists Boulder County Colorado to plan and develop an urban-ish artists cohousing community with live/work spaces, a common house including community outreach/inreach such as gallery and performance space, teaching, etc.

Sue Smuller
Sue Smuller

I have a 1 bed/1 bath house for rent in South Joshua Tree. Rent is $740/mo. If you research Joshua Tree, you will see that it is a magical place with a very creative artist community. It is a place where you can truly be inspired and if you like hiking and the outdoors, its the place for you.. Contact me for more information

Jane M.W.Chrzanoska
Jane M.W.Chrzanoska

I'm a senior artist who's been a professional my whole adult life and am far from retiring. Right now I live and work in the same space and I love it but the climate here in Jersey is agravating to say the least! I would love to have a similar situation but with a climate that's conducive to more outdoor activities. Also I would love to be around more people and activities in the arts. Right now my work can be seen on www.fineartamerica.com

irmaly brackin
irmaly brackin

looking to relocate ..low cost for fine artist..need community ... exhibition and living space..

Art Lee
Art Lee

Great website. Work with a non-profit that is looking to develop an artist housing / business mixed usecommunity in South Brunswick, NJ

Devon rottinghaus
Devon rottinghaus

Hello, I am a professional ballet dancer. I moved to Newport, RI to dance as well as teach younger dancers. However I financially cannot survive. Can anyone help me. Otherwise, I am forced to return home or go somewhere else... I don't want to leave these children or my company. Please help. Advice or anything!

olivia beens
olivia beens

Living in a community with a group of artist in formal art colony type setting has always appealed to me. I am thinking of relocating to a warmer climate with friendly supportive artists where I own my own apt/house/studio/unit. Sharing some studio facilities and commercial ventures or enterprise is useful and productive. I am a sane self-supporting sculptor and educator who has much to offer the right community. Do you know of a place like this or want to discuss the matter please contact me.

heya2k
heya2k

Hi, I am an artist looking to relocate to a vibrant arts community. I would like to be on the east coast and near a waterway. I also would want to be in a live /work space with other artist. My particular desire is to live in a "adaptive reuse" building. Generally, these are old mills or former industrial spaces. Does anyone know where I could find a clearinghouse( inclusive website) on this type of housing.

Angelika Scott
Angelika Scott

I am living in a geodesic dome home, remodeled in 2008, surrounded by trees, only 10 minutes from major freeways, yet it feels like being in Tuscany! Where - in North Tustin, Orange County, CA. My home is for sale, a PERFECT space for an artist, check out the web site/video tour www.19288barrettlane.com

juanitarock
juanitarock

My husband (video/music/sound artist) and I (writer/director) currently live in Baltimore, which has some interesting artist housing stuff starting up these days:   http://preview.tinyurl.com/6od3lwb . We love our quirky city and our home, but are looking at all these same questions, whether it means living in Baltimore or elsewhere.We’re especially interested in what it could mean to be a part of an artist community in the “intentional community” model (owning your own space but utilizing some shared labor and resources, with all participants committed to building a successful shared community, not just their own careers, which seems to be a common pitfall in artist housing). We like that this could keep costs down and help foster collaboration and mutual support in a culture that’s pretty darn hostile to artists. Places we’re currently thinking about are Berkeley Springs (WV), Pawtucket (RI), and Asheville (NC) and areas closer to Balto/DC, but we are interested in hearing how others are thinking about arts and community. We are used to "big city" aesthetics and yet interested in making a more integrated kind of life for ourselves. We are cautious about leaving an area where we have our university jobs and professional contacts (given the difficult job market), but are in full-out research mode and considering all options for now, including international options.

wasdirector
wasdirector

The Western Avenue Lofts in Lowell MA are nearing completion with opening scheduled for May 2012.  We have 18 live/work units left ranging in size from 1060 to 1600 square feet, these are rentals and rents range from $1035 to $1575 per month plus electricity and water . . . heat is included as are two parking spaces.  www.westernavenuelofts.com.  

Barbara Price
Barbara Price

Many cities in have affordable housing offices - and that can be one route. For artists specifically: Boston MA - go to Boston Redevelopment Authority, Artist Space Initiative. In NY State check out Peekskill -on the commuter train line to NYC, coops you buy into, - they have both minimum and maximum earning levels

vonder
vonder

I live at WAV, Working Artists Ventura, Ventura CA. WAV is 2 years old, with 54 artists subsidized apartments, 11 homeless transition apartments and 13 market-rate apartments. It was the greenest building of it's kind when it opened 2 years ago. Place out of Minneapolis built it along with the city of Ventura. Place builds green artist housing. We are always taking applications although we have no available artist units at the moment. We are looking for serious artists, masters program grads, who meet the financial criteria to come live and work with us to create an art destination in this New Art City of Ventura. vonderg@hotmail.com Vonder

wasdirector
wasdirector

Thought I would send an update on the Western Avenue Lofts in Lowell, MA . . . we are currently under construction and will be opening in May of this year. These are rental live/work spaces and occupancy is restricted to artists . . . artists must submit a current portfolio and resume or a BRA artist certification letter with their applications. The lofts range in size from 782 to 1659 square feet. Rents range from $835 to $1595/month including heat and two parking spaces. Artists must pay for electricity and water. Most of the units are 25 feet wide with no interior columns, the majority of the units have one window . . . 8 feet high by 22 feet wide. On the first floor the ceilings are 13 feet high, on the second floor many of the units have ceilings that range from 14 to 25 feet high. The floors are sealed concrete. There is no elevator, but the first floor corridor is fully ramped and 8 feet wide. Doors are 42 inches wide by 8 feet high. There will be an area of raised beds for gardening alongside the canal. Pets are welcome and there is no additional fee for pets. This is not an 'affordable' (i.e. low income tax credit) project. This project is privately funded and there are no income restrictions. This is a good project, designed with the help of the artists at Western Avenue Studios. www.westernavenuelofts.com

starvingtradition
starvingtradition

I wouldn't recommend Artspace. Their live/work facilities are perfectly capable, however their only interests seem to be with their asset portfolio. Once constructed they pretty much abandon the cause and subcontract the property management over to slumlords with little to no compassion for the arts mission or the rationale behind affordable artist housing. Even when Artspace was paying attention they moved in the first run of residents with pre-dated leases to misrepresent the time that construction was actually finished. Their was little to no interest or discernment based on artist qualification and most the selections were based on income/asset tax credit qualification. Many of the "artists" either did not even have any body of work to speak for and/or didn't produce anything that even required an accommodation otherwise unavailable in the residential market. Mostly just a bunch of hobbyist arts and crafts people and/or writer/poets who saw the residency as a money-making opportunity. Those who took on leadership roles in the control of "gallery" operations in the common areas attempted to pay their rents by embezzling donation money from patrons and subletting exhibition space for their own profits. Some even went on to turn their residential zoned artist studios into commercial gallery spaces. When I criticized these bad business practices to Artspace the property management began seeking routes to unlawfully dispossess me and eventually refusing to renew my lease.

bournetowrite
bournetowrite

The Exner Block, Bellows Falls, Vermont -- RAMP: Rockingham Area Museum Project

Artnova
Artnova

Wow I am so very glad I found this site. I'm an artist and right now I am need to find a place to live and work. I just finished grad school and prior to that I did shows and stuff. So I am eager to get back to making my works. I am thinking about LA or the south-west, but I'm open to other places and thus how I found this site today.

galanerwin
galanerwin

Hi Bettie, I am an actor in Seattle looking to move to LA. I have artist housing up here but there in much more work in LA ofcourse. So Im looking to move, but I need affordable housing to do so. Please inform me as to what has occurred in your pursuit to create LA's first official arts housing project. galanerwin@hotmail.com

sebastianvillain
sebastianvillain

The Hollywood Dorms is Artist housing for people in the entertainment industry. We have multiple locations all across America. For more information email thehollywooddormsmanagement@yahoo.com or call 1-800-450-5042 int. or 323-450-5111 U.S.

Darlene
Darlene

What great information. Thanks. I am looking to find a place that may offer more for an artist than where I am now. I will check these out and I will get back to you. Darlene

Peyton C. Daughtry
Peyton C. Daughtry

When Is Chattanooga going to have another opening for the art housing project...I am seriously capable and interested.....Thanks pcd

Tom McMahon
Tom McMahon

I would like to welcome folks to check out the Goggle Works website in Reading Pennsylvania. Five years ago we transformed an older factory building into work/gallery space for artists and now have have ceramic studios, hot and cold glass, woodworking facilities and other amenities. The area surrounding the Goggle Works has characteristics very similar to Paducah, KY (which has done an outstanding job with their artists relocation program). Our artist relocation program right now is beginning to take off; we have one artist couple in a recently refurbished home, and plans are in place for many more in 2011. Please check out the web site and for more information you can call the mayors office in Reading PA at 610-655-6234 and ask for Crystal. Tom McMahon, Mayor of Reading Pa

Maxine
Maxine

Appleton Mills in Lowell, MA is an 'affordable' (low income) artist live/work project with 130 units that will open next April. www.liveappletonmills.com. Western Avenue Lofts also in Lowell, MA is a live/work project adjacent to the Western Avenue Studios complex, designated artist only. WAL is middle income with units that were designed with a lot of artist input. www.liveatwas.com

Danny Strong
Danny Strong

Broken fork design renovates and sells affordable creative homes using local artists and reclaimed materials. Our artist builders have degrees in fine arts, local potter's, make sinks and handmade tiles. We use metal sculptures and functional metal accessories from craftsmen. Reclaimed wood and materials salvaged from old bourbon distilaries, tobacco barns, old flooring from warehouses, gymnasiums & barns. The houses all sell quickly usually before they are even done. We would like to expand our business into an Art District, Looking for incentives. We create affordable housing and jobs for artists, two things most of the Art Districts miss.

Jenny
Jenny

Just to pick some brains a little more. I work for a small arts organization (budget under $200k) that has been approached by a property owner to consider creating an artist relocation program. This wouldn't be about revitilizing rundown areas at this point but about selling properties. We are in a small, historical, beautiful town on the south east coast (city population about 10,000). Our organization is small but passionate about supporting the business growth of artists and as part of this we are looking to grow our arts and culture scene. We can't guarantee sales (I've read that Paducah has lost a lot of artists because of this) --- we can only provide a beautiful environment to create in and opportunities to participate in the ground floor of an arts and culture renaissance. What really are artists interested in when it comes to relocation? Thoughts?

Emilie Parker
Emilie Parker

Hi Jodi. If Colorado interests you, read all about Louisville Artists Cohousing community forming in Boulder County on our website. Join our Meetup to be kept informed of progress. We have 66 members now and 21 artists are on our core list. We are in the process of trying to get an artists community built -- studios and 24 living spaces. To follow what we are doing join at www.meetup.com/artists-housing-community.

Emilie Parker
Emilie Parker

I love your concept Cheryl. I would love to talk with you about your experience creating the 36 studios and 5 live/work units in San Diego. We're planning artists cohousing in Boulder County Colorado with 36 residences and about 5 or 6 shared studio/work spaces in a common space with galleries, teaching, and casual performance spaces.

Lauraborialis
Lauraborialis

I just posted an option if you are interested

Sharon Boysel
Sharon Boysel

Me too. Alas am getting older but still working and would love to find a community of same--almost anywhere tho warm would be nice.

Francesca Fuller
Francesca Fuller

One thought for you, but it is on the west coast, Vashon Island, off of Seattle, we have a huge community of artists here, it's still quite rural and you have the big city only a 20 min. ferry ride away. Better than sitting in a gas filled freeway. It is an wonderful place the only down side is a very long grey wet winter.....but then most folks take off to colourful Mexico for a bit. Just something to think about.

heya2k
heya2k

@juanitarock I was down in Old Alexandria 2 weeks ago and visited the Torpedo factory art center. They have a great art center which you probably know but no artist housing that I know of. My other dilemma is that most of these programs require a low income which excludes me. I would like to be in the mid-atlantic states so I will check out your link. Sometimes I think about just stating my own but that must be very complex.  Anyone know?Thanks

RodEspinosa
RodEspinosa

I would love to learn more about your program. I am not a gallery painter, though. My needs are very basic. Just shelter and access to electricity. That's pretty much it. Internet when available. All I can guarantee is I can generate my own sales online and of course, would love to spend my money in the town where I live.

jhstudio
jhstudio

What is the name of your arts organization and where are you located.

roz
roz

OK...Here's one you may not have thought of.... There is a huge generatio of Boomers who have worked all theri lives at whatever it took to get them from one month to the other, get their kids raised and educated, their mortgages paid, and all of that. Many of these people have also always loved the arts and done as much art as time and money would allow. Now that we are retiring, many of us are faced with the problem of relocating and also finding a place where we can (FINALLY) settle down and do the art we have always loved-- whatever craft or skill that may be. I am not suggesting that you compromise the vitality and youth of your art program-project-community and turn it into an old folks hobby center, but here are a few points: 1. Older residents provide stability to a community 2. Older residents, especially boomers, know how to get things done 3. Older residents also bring in money to a community -- eventhose of us who willbe retiring with very modest pensions and SS 4. Older residents are going to spend their money where they are -- and that includes services as well as goods. 5. Generally, older citizens are pretty practical and good housekeepeers 6. Older citizens not only care about ecology etc but have the time to focus on these things For myself, I am looking for a community where I don't depend on a car, where I can feel safe, where I am not burdened with a lot of maintenance. I have been looking at some pre-fab and obile home parks, and they(some of them) actually look lovely -- and much more luxuious than many pricey apartments. Please remember us -- we have A LOT to offer, and are at a point where we don't care about competing with other people -- we pretty much know who we are and what we want to do. Thanks for listening! Roz

tigerlilly389
tigerlilly389

@roz You are so right on but I would say we are blooming cool mellow yellow rocking hipsters!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] What can we do about it? Nothing – if we choose to cede control to market forces. But as with other cases of market failure, there are other choices we could make. San Francisco has rent control laws, but they have been weakened as landlords have won greater political sway. Some cities have experimented with public housing developments oriented specifically toward artists. [...]