A Closer Look at Artspace's Efforts to Create Affordable Live/Work Spaces for Artists

What is the state of artist housing in the U.S.?

The answer depends on where you live. There's lots of hand wringing in big cities like San Francisco and New York, where advocates for artists rightfully worry that they'll be pushed out as big developers, condo complexes, and the dreaded dot-commers (see: Bay Area) move in. That's why New York City's mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced plans to build 1,500 new affordable live/work units for artists over the next decade.

But then there are other cities that have yet to recover from the mass exodus of residents in the 1980s and 90s or are struggling with pervasive economic challenges—such as Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans. These cities provide tremendous opportunities for artists looking to help revitalize their neighborhoods.

This brings us to Minneapolis-based Artspace Projects. Artspace's mission is to create, own, and operate affordable spaces for artists in cities across the U.S. Artspace has developed 37 projects around the country designed for artists to live and work near each other and to pay affordable rents.

Artspace has a huge supporter in the Kresge Foundation. Since 2008, the foundation has provided Artspace with more than $9 million in support, including large capital grants for the Bell School Arts Campus in New Orleans and the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis that won a Best in Real Estate Award from The Business Journal in 2011.

And now comes word that Kresge is opening its checkbook yet again in the form of a $2.25 million grant to support Artspace's efforts to lead the development of a project in Detroit. Specifically, Artplace plans to serve in an advisory capacity to various development corporations, arts groups, and individuals that are in the process of developing artist live/work spaces.

Detroit, as we all know, is a kind of blank slate, a creative placemaking Rorschach test that holds incredible potential for individuals to integrate the arts into redeveloping neighborhoods. But artists need to live somewhere and it needs to be affordable. Artspace knows how to make it happen, and that's their key point of differentiation. If you're a nonprofit looking to, say, secure start-up capital for a potentially risky creative placemaking effort, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Artspace is in the business of placing artists in affordable living spaces. And if you, as a nonprofit arts organization, find this intriguing, we encourage you to check our post listing four key ingredients that will increase your chances of netting Artspace funding.