The photo was shot by Gustavo Rosado, ED of El Barrio's Operation Fightback, our local partner.

The photo was shot by Gustavo Rosado, ED of El Barrio's Operation Fightback, our local partner.

All nonprofits love grants, but some grants are more lovable than others. For Artspace Projects, the most lovable grants of all are the final grants – the grants that put us over the top and make it possible for us to break ground on new projects.

Artspace, for the uninitiated, is a national nonprofit that specializes in planning, developing, and operating arts facilities. For more than three decades, we have brought our expertise to more than 200 cultural facility planning efforts that have resulted in the creation of more than 50 arts facilities across the country. Of these, 30 were developed and are owned and operated by Artspace itself, a unique portfolio representing a nearly half-billion dollar investment in America’s arts infrastructure.

Most of our projects – 24 in all – are “live/work” projects, in which each residential unit has extra space designed to be used as a studio. For the resident artist, the live/work paradigm represents an economical way of working, since having your studio at home eliminates the need for renting one elsewhere. But for Artspace, live/work spaces are more expensive because larger apartments cost more to build than smaller ones. In addition, we include community space in every project – space for use not only by our residents but also for those of the surrounding neighborhoods.

So we fundraise. In fact, about 10 percent of the budget for a typical Artspace live/work project comes from philanthropic contributions.

A case in point is our project in New York City. El Barrio’s Artspace (P.S. 109) is a $52 million project that will transform a historic public school in East Harlem into a mixed-use facility containing 90 affordable live/work units for artists and their families plus about 10,000 square feet for arts organizations like the Hip-Hop Theater Festival.

The biggest single source of financing for P.S. 109, as for most Artspace projects, is Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which will generate $24.8 million in equity, or about 48 percent of the project’s total development cost. Federal and state Historic Preservation Tax Credits will bring in another $11.7 million, and allocations from several municipal funding sources will cover $11.1 million.

Only 6 percent of P.S. 109’s development budget will come from charitable gifts. But 6 percent of $52 million is a large number – more than $3.1 million – and raising that sum has been difficult in a weak economy.  The $1 million grant from ArtPlace for P.S. 109 construction represents the final dollars we need to break ground on this exciting project in early 2012.

The photo was shot by Gustavo Rosado, ED of El Barrio's Operation Fightback, our local partner.

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