Sunday’s New York Times Business: Real Estate section featured an article with the lead, “Rising rents for studios and lofts are painting creative types in New York City into a corner.”

Creative organizations and individuals in Southeast Michigan—who we work for and with—are similarly dealing with this conundrum and quest of finding affordable space to house an artistic practice. And in considering our local ecosystem, I found five things notable about this article:

  1. It was refreshing having this piece appear outside the frame of the Arts & Culture section, making me optimistic about broadening awareness and solutions thinking regarding this supply problem.
  1. The voices featured were mostly artists working individually in visual art mediums: sculpture, painting, photography, and ceramics. This did make me wonder to what degree literary, music, or digital media artists as well as creative collectives are feeling space insecurity.
  1. The article cites that for artists with space needs, the new economic environment is changing their practices: some first fit their work to the spatial limitations of their space (more often a shared apartment that doubles as a studio), and others are increasingly relying on commercial projects to subsidize their conceptual pursuits. At CultureSource, we hope to offer suggestions and resources for more workarounds while simultaneously advocating for systems changes.
  1. “Being an artist in New York City has always required a certain amount of negotiation, thrift, and ingenuity,” writes article author Kim Velsey. Constraints and discomfort can often be drivers of innovation and it may be that these new problems of space are forcing important and beneficial evolution of our cultural ecosystem. Or maybe not.
  1. The creative isolation rising rents are causing is degrading artistic communities and preventing new growth. I am hopeful CultureSource and other elements of our regional infrastructure can nurture new ways for creative and cultural expression flourish in Southeast Michigan. In this focus we will be led by our programs manager Adam DesJardins who was recently accepted into the year-long Creative Community Fellows program of National Arts Strategies. We are proud of his selection for this program and look forward his fellowship focus on creative space driving experimentation in the work of CultureSource and our member organizations. (Feel free to reach out to Adam if you have questions about his fellowship and what he’s learning: adesjardins@culturesource.org.)

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