- Space Toolbox
- For Artists
- For Developers
- How ArtistLink Can Help
- Artist Space Developers
- Artist Space Basics
- Building a Community
- Space Development Guidebooks
- Making the Case
- Classic Development Process
- State Energy Planning Resources
- Artist Space Case Studies
- Note on Development Teams
- How to (not) spend $
- Design & Construction
- Legal & Governmental
- Financing Space
- Upon Completion
- Real Estate Taxes
- For Municipalities
Artist Space Basics
Building a Community
What makes artist space different?
Whether you are building live/work or just work space (or a rehearsal space), what you should focus on is the fact that you are trying to build a community of like-minded small business people. Artist spaces don't work unless they start with a community of artists or creative businesses wanting and needing space. Read our section about building a community for an example of how a live/work project might get started.
It is imperative for any artist project that you make the case for it in your community. Please read our section on advocacy and making the case.
What is great about artist space is that it typically is very easy to create and design and can fit in many different types of buildings. A lot of artist studio space is very similar in design and price to light industrial space and/or low end office space. For the basics of design of artist space, please see the design guidelines page under "For Municipalities." If you have a specific building type which you would like to know about, you can search through the examples in our artist space case studies database, be sure to look at the attached chart which give examples of artist space models in Massachusetts as a starting place, or just give us a ring.
Why artist space?
Artists have basic needs. A creative person’s biggest needs are recognition, community and the ability to make a living. This is how space can help:
- Space can help an artist be creative.
- Space can help build a community.
- Space can offer proximity to galleries, clients, audiences, jobs.
- Space can build a nest-egg for retirement.
- Space can offer stability of expenditure and peace of mind.
Benefits of Artist Space
- Buildings designated specifically for artists give artists living and/or working space in those buildings, increased visibility, and credibility as artists.
- Projects that use public funding programs to create affordable housing for artists ensure longer-term affordability and allow artists to stay in the same neighborhood over time.
- Many completed projects have seen home-ownership stabilize, businesses enter, and residents feel safer in the neighborhood.
- Many of these projects create connections between the artists and the community, enriching neighborhood culture.
- Tax revenues to the city and county increase as properties stabilize.
- The projects often prove to be an effective organizing tool, galvanizing communities and generating enthusiasm and support for community revitalization.
Many people ask us what the going rate for rentals and live/work condos are for artist space. The answer depends on your location and quality of space, obviously, but we can make some generalizations. It is best to contact us to discuss your exact space before you make any assumptions.
- Rental studio space
In general we have seen rental rates on artist space range from $5/s.f./annum up to $16/s.f This is highly dependent on the location and quality of the space being offered. Most individual artists typically cannot afford more than $12/s.f. Small creative businesses might be able to afford more, but there are not a huge amount of them to go around. It is deceptive to think in per square foot numbers however. You need to think about how much an artists might be able to pay total on top of his/her monthly other expenses. Most artists usually do not want to pay more than $100-$300 a month on top of other expenses.
Most live work units will not sell for more than $180-$275/s.f. to artists. Certainly there is a range of what artists can afford- not all artists are poor. If you are thinking about developing a building, you might want to have some expensive units balance out a few affordable units. This works well in the co-op model. Given that it costs about $350/s.f. to build a building ground up in Massachusetts, it is very difficult to achieve new construction artist space without mixing units.
- Other spaces
Rehearsal spaces and galleries have varying amounts that they can pay or charge artists to pay for rent. Small creative businesses also have various rents they can afford. In general, it is probably best to assume that none of these businesses can afford much more than $20/s.f./ annum. It would be wise to assume less than that amount. It’s probably best to contact ArtistLink about how you might attract and rent to these other types of spaces.
Generalizations about Artist Space Development
1. Connecting with the surrounding community and with the targeted artist community early on in the project has proved to be critical to project success. Partnerships have played a key role in many project successes.
2. Non-profits are useful as partners in development of artist space. Only a non-profit can access the public funding sources that can provide enough subsidy to create affordable units.
3. Most arts or artist organizations leverage relationships developed over a long period of time to obtain community input and to acquire funding. Partnerships are essential to bridge the ties necessary between the arts and development. CDCs are well connected with the surrounding community and most are familiar with a variety of financing options, but most rely on partnerships to connect to the arts community.
4. Artist-space development projects can require many different types of funding from a variety of public and private sources. Many average six different funding sources per project. The administrative burden of managing so many different sources with different requirements and timetables is a major challenge to project completion. A number of organizations partner with outside consultants who could guide them through the process of acquiring and managing various financing mechanisms.
5. Private funding, most commonly from foundation grants and program-related investment (PRI), is the dominant funding source for these projects, providing four times as much money as public funding sources. Non-profit organizations typically are uniquely situated to receive such funds.