Arts Center, Performance Space, Downtown Transformation Catalyst And More.
GA! What is Artspace?
Artspace Gastonia: Artspace, based in Minneapolis, is the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts. Their mission is is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. This is accomplished by identifying underutilized downtown properties and up-fitting them into dynamic live/work communities for artists of all disciplines.
GA! So Artspace is affordable housing for artist, craftsmen, dancers, musicians, painters,etc.?
Artspace Project: It is! The Gastonia project could potentially provide 35-40 spaces for artists to live and work. Arts organizations, galleries, and even retail space are additional possibilities with an Artspace project.
GA! I understand Artspace is nationwide-how many Artspace projects are there and what has the success ratio of their projects been financially?
Artspace Gastonia: 30 successful Artspace have been completed around the country and over a dozen are in various stages of development. Artspace only moves forward with projects that have undergone substantial feasibility work to ensure the project will be financially self-sustaining. And they happily report the return of many vacant parcels and abandoned buildings to the tax rolls!
GA! Who owns the real estate when all is said and done?
Artspace Gastonia: That is the beauty of working with Artspace! Artspace owns or co-owns, and is the managing general partner on all the buildings it develops. To fulfill its mission, Artspace strives to manage its properties so that they will be well-maintained and remain affordable to the low- and moderate-income artists for whom they were developed in the first place. Revenues in excess of expenses are set aside for preventive maintenance, common areas improvements, and building upgrades. Artspace will have skin in this game! They will be invested and a part of our community.
GA! Why Gastonia and surrounding area and why now?
Artspace Gastonia: Gastonia is a blank canvas with visionary leadership. We are poised to paint an exciting new future in Gaston County – why not as an arts community? We have a picturesque downtown with stunning, undisturbed architecture. We have an abundance of talent, enthusiasm, and the fortitude to see this project through.
The piedmont is rich with artists of all disciplines, and Gastonia is a natural stop on the ride from Charlotte’s vibrant art district, through Cleveland county’s haven of potters and artists, to Asheville’s booming art scene. (david, should we note other counties as they are helping with the survey – York, Lincoln, Iredell, et al.?)
GA! What is your vision- what does this look like when it is finished?
Artspace Gastonia: Remember the REM song, Shiny, Happy People? We see a shiny, happy downtown teeming with activity – artists creating, shops selling, Businesses thriving, and restaurants with lines out the door!
GA! How do you think Artspace could transform not only downtown, but our community?
Artspace Gastonia: Downtown Gastonia will not only be a vital destination for our citizens and tourists, but Gaston county will realize a need for more businesses to relocate downtown. City’s and towns across the nation have experienced the community and economic development benefits of investment in the arts. An engaged cluster of new, creative residents supports new businesses, draws visitors, and neighbors in to see a gallery opening, take a workshop or purchase art, adding to the vibrancy of downtown, and growing the real estate and business markets. With ArtspaceGastonia we will have the added benefit of ensuring the artists who helped make it happen, have an affordable place to live and work and interact with the community in perpetuity.
GA! Tell us about the Survey and why that is so important?
Artspace Gastonia: The survey is key to the future of this project. Based on Artspace’s experience, the magic number is to identify is 3,500 to 5,000 artists of all disciplines creating in this region, Reaching out to this many artists will ensure we hear from enough interested artists and their families to support our estimate of 35-40 affordable live/work spaces. Artists don’t have to make a living with their art, they just have to be creative souls who meet income guidelines for affordable space and can demonstrate a commitment to their art discipline and a sincere interest in being part of a dynamic, interactive community
GA! How do we get more info about Artspace, and about the local project particularly?
Gastonia Artspace: Starting September 26th, you can go online to www.artspacegastonia.org and take the survey. On October 1st, head to Arts on Main, 212 West Main Avenue at 9 am to compete in the Gastonia Chalk Festival. There will be Artspace representatives on hand to answer your questions and help you take the survey on the spot.
GA! What has your reception been like so far in the arts and business community?
Artspace Gastonia: The reception to Artspace and arts in general has been phenomenal! Initially, it was heartening to watch people’s eyes light up when they imagine the possibility of our downtown as a beehive of activity.
Both artists and businesses appreciate the opportunity and economic potential this type of energy would bring to our community. We live in an outstanding place!
GA! What has surprised you about the process so far?
Artspace Gastonia: The best outcome has been the development of Arts on Main! Arts on Main is a co-op of 23 artists sharing studio space and a common gallery and gift shop at 212 West Main Avenue. Arts on Main is the vision of Jack Kiser, Special Projects Executive for the City of Gastonia to help secure studio space for a half dozen displaced artists. The Gaston Arts Council, Juliette Shelley, and Art’s Guild President, Jacqueline Dunford and VP, Renee Matthews have run with the project. On August 27th, Arts on Main opened it’s doors and Gastonia’s first artist colony was born. Arts on Main will host a Grand opening recption from 6-9pm on September 29,2011.
GA! Anything funny or surprising happen so far?
Artspace Gastonia: Whenever folks get together and are excited over a concept, there are lots of laughs and funny moments, but what I have found most wonderful about this project is sharing the news about Artspace with our community and surrounding counties. People really get it! We are working hand in hand with our neighbors in an effort to learn and grow into the most highly respected arts region in the south.
For more information regarding both the Artspace Survey and the G’Town Chalk Festival you may call the Gastonia Art Guild at 704.865.4224 or email [email protected]. You can also become a fan Artspace Gastonia on Facebook.
Visit www.artspace.org to learn more about Artspace and its other successful projects.
Please email [email protected] or call 704-860-5010 if you would like to become a sponsor or volunteer.