If you’ve heard the recent buzz about Artspace you know that people are excited about it, very excited for that matter. 40W Arts District chair Bill Marino calls it “one of the biggest things that could happen to this community. All you have to do is look at the impact Artspace has had in other communities across the country. Artspace projects are incredibly catalytic – this would be a game-changer for 40 West Arts and the West Colfax Corridor.” But you might be asking yourself, what is Artspace and why does it matter to me? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But before I delve into this world of art and artistic communities I’ve got three words for you. TAKE THE SURVEY. This will all become clearer as you read below. Don’t forget it though, take the survey.
In a sentence, Artspace is a non-profit organization that comes into communities and builds something new, or remodels something old, that serves as both affordable housing and studio space for artists of any type. Additionally their larger properties include capacity for artistic businesses, meaning that art galleries, graphic design firms, and even coffee shops could lease space in the same location. Okay, technically that was two sentences.
Why does it matter to you? I’ll let Wendy Holmes, Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships help fill in the blanks. I spoke to her via phone from the Artspace headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
My first question to Wendy was, why do the arts even matter? How do they help, as your company tagline states, to “build better communities”? Wendy energetically responded:
“It’s really about the power of both the individual artist and the collective. [Artists] make places special and part of the reason they do that is because they care deeply about their communities, they are willing to give back, and they see the world in a different way that is necessary to our lives.”
Wendy spoke about the concept of creative placemaking, an idea with deep roots in the foundation of Artspace. Creative placemaking is the notion that “when animated by artists, generic space takes on the quality of ‘place’, and in doing so accumulates value – ranging from the engendering of community pride to the attraction of new businesses.”
I implored Wendy to elaborate more regarding the impact Artspace buildings have on both the individual artist and the surrounding community.
She told me that in terms of the impact on individual artists, when Artspace builds in an area, artists make more income from their art just as a result of living in these places. They don’t necessarily make more money as a composite, but they are able to hold fewer jobs and to focus on art as their primary source of income. Additionally artists “collaborate more, they begin to be branded, people see [the Artspace location] as a place to buy and interact with quality art.”
But what about the impact on the surrounding community?
Wendy described it beautifully.
“On the municipal side, we’re often bringing underutilized or vacant properties back to the tax rolls. Area property values increase.” And perhaps the most tangible benefit to the community – “developers just nip at our heels. Having the presence of artists is one of the single biggest predictors that the community is about to change.”
I utilized a brief pause in our conversation to bring up one of my concerns. When I reviewed the Artspace website I was thrilled to discover how beautiful and unique these buildings were, but I did notice that many of them were located in unquestionably urban areas. Lakewood, Colorado reads as suburban to most people and I wondered if that would affect our feasibility as a location.
Wendy assured me that Lakewood is a viable candidate for Artspace. She noted that with its proximity to downtown Denver and the advent of light rail, Lakewood actually translates as more urban that one might think. Additionally Artspace is no stranger to suburban communities, including a project in Maryland just a few miles outside of Washington D.C.
Enthusiastically I asked Wendy what our next steps are.
Wendy unraveled the process for me. She noted that Artspace comes to a locality because they are invited. This means that community input plays an essential role. “The next phase – the market study – is critical,” she explained to me in no uncertain terms.
Do you remember my words for you at the beginning of this post? TAKE THE SURVEY. You can call it a market study if you’d like but either way, this survey determines the answers to key questions that Artspace needs before it agrees to move forward toward selecting a building site. The survey will answer questions like:
Is there enough interest?
What types of artists and artistic supporters live in this community?
Who supports the City of Lakewood in their bid to attract Artspace?
How many of them are there?
Help us, to help Artspace, to help us, build a home here. We have the bones, we have the creative talent, we have the community. Take the survey and encourage your fellow creatives (writers, editors, graphic designers, photographers, culinary artists, cake decorators, architects, printmakers, musicians, etc.) to do the same! Show Artspace how much we care.
Link below to all of the important stuff, including our survey kickoff party at Lamar Station Crossing on February 28 from 5-7pm.
Click here to find all of the info about our kickoff party and survey.
Did I mention that Artspace is working with the City of Loveland, Colorado? Their groundbreaking ceremony is today! Click here to learn more.
Click here to watch a short video about Artspace.