El Barrio’s Artspace P.S. 109New York, NY
‘Jobs, safer streets, sustainable development, and a more cohesive society.’
In early September, Artspace celebrated the grand opening of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts – a new, 160,000-square-foot arts complex on Minneapolis’ once desolate Hennepin Avenue. The Cowles combines a phenomenal, 500-seat theater with nine studios, administrative space for 20+ nonprofit organizations, and a state-of-the-art distance learning lab that connects Twin Cities artists with students around the country.
The Cowles Center will have a transformative impact on the Twin Cities dance community, as well as on its immediate neighborhood. As NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said at our opening, “Just take a look at Artspace. They create spaces – affordable, sustainable spaces – for artists and arts organizations, and in return, those artists and arts organizations put down roots and become an integral part of the community. Art is created, absolutely. But so are jobs, safer streets, sustainable development, and a more cohesive society.”
In a very different community – Lower East Harlem – El Barrio’s Artspace (commonly known as PS109) will have a similar transformative impact. El Barrio’s Artspace will include affordable space for 90 artists and their families to live and work, as well as 10,000 square feet of programmable community space, which will be animated by partners like the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, MediaNoche, the Ghetto Film School, and others.
“I have been an ardent supporter of Artspace’s PS109 project since day one,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “[This project is] significant and cutting edge … not only for El Barrio/East Harlem but for New York City as a whole. The PS109 project will help solidify El Barrio/East Harlem’s place as a vibrant cultural community that welcomes and celebrates the contributions of local artists.”
These outcomes are not just speculative. Artspace recently completed a report, How Art Spaces Matter II, available on our website at www.artspace.org/media/reports.html, which provides – to the best of our knowledge – the most in-depth analysis of creative placemaking available. This report, which analyzes the impacts of five Artspace projects in four cities, finds that our projects benefit artists by:
- Providing space that meets residential and professional needs at affordable rates
- Catalyzing an arts community to be more than a sum of its parts
- Increasing artistic production
- Enhancing the professional reputations of individual artists, and in some cases their income generated through art activity.
In turn, our projects benefit communities by:
- Animating deteriorated historic structures and/or underutilized spaces;
- Bringing vacant and/or underutilized spaces back on the tax rolls and boosting area property values;
- Fostering the safety and livability of neighborhoods without evidence of gentrification-led displacement;
- Anchoring arts districts and expanding public access to the arts;
- Attracting additional artists, art businesses, organizations and supporting non-arts businesses to the area.
For more detail, please check out the full report at www.artspace.org/media/reports.html.