Artspace begins looking at feasibility of live/work space for Charleston area artists

February 25th marked the completion of my first year as the Lowcountry Program Director for GDDF. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with dozens of artists and arts organizations across the Lowcountry, listening to and looking for solutions to challenges to their ability to sustainably produce art. The most consistent need, expressed by both emerging and established groups, is the need for affordable residential and commercial space for artists to create their work.

Last week, Artspace, the nation’s leading non-profit developer for arts communities of this type, led two days of meetings, convening various parts of our community to determine how to bolster artists’ sustainability through affordable live/work space. Over the course of two days, Artspace consultants toured a half dozen neighborhoods in Charleston and North Charleston and talked with more than 100 artists, civic leaders, philanthropic leaders, financial managers, developers, and creative businesses about the types of spaces that could be built for artists.

What we learned from Artspace is that stabilizing residential and commercial space for artists for the long term ensures that creativity and vibrancy remains central to our communities. They shared information about many of the 40 successful projects they’ve completed across the country and highlighted potential funding mechanisms that could bring such a project to fruition, and sustain it over time.

What Artspace learned from the community is there is a desire to find solutions and that given an opportunity, various sectors would like to come together and figure out how to move forward.

The consultants have returned to Minneapolis with notebooks full of information to now compile into a report. They will be honest about the viability of a project in the Charleston region and make recommendations on what the next steps may be. This is an exciting way to begin my second year with GDDF, convening various parts of the community, not only to discuss common interests, but to begin creating solutions.

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