Austin Still Trying to Fix Affordability for Creative People Problem

by Paula Newton July 17, 2018
Pump Project

Old Pump Project Gallery space

Just this year alone, Glasstire has reported on many Austin artists and art organizations closing up shop or relocating due to lack of affordability. The most recent victim is Pump Project, although it has plans to move across Lady Bird Lake and build more space. Also, Flatbed Press lost its lease, Not Gallery decided to shut its garage door, and, in a few days, MASS Gallery will host a closing party, auction, and fire sale to raise money to renovate a new (and smaller) space.

The City of Austin has been trying to deal with the problem, as we reported back in 2016 when it attempted to address the issue of artists being pushed out of East Austin. A few weeks ago, the City Council approved a big bond (to go to voters in November) which is to include funds for cultural centers and affordable housing.

It seems that Austin’s artists and arts organizations are well aware of the problem. The City’s Economic Development Department has recently released results of its 2017 Creative Space Survey. Data collected from more than 500 artists, arts organizations, and creative-sector businesses will be used to inform the City’s plans for addressing affordability of work/performance space for local creatives. The survey also provides data integral to the development of creative space incentives, district designation, and creative space matchmaking efforts with partner organizations. Administered July–September of 2017, the survey revealed several broad trends within Austin’s creative sector.

Artists and organizations are looking for small to mid-sized spaces to grow.

81% of artists polled indicated their ideal workspace to be 500 square feet or less
78% of organizations and businesses currently have space under 5,000 square feet, with 39% currently operating in small spaces under 1,000 square feet
51% of organizations and businesses said their space was currently too small
47% of organizations and businesses said their ideal space would be 1,000-5,000 square feet

Artists and Creative Spaces are finding it hard to stay in Austin.

38% of respondents indicated they have paid for space they could not afford
69% used a space they identified as not being ideal for their needs
51% of artists surveyed said they have considered leaving Austin for another city or state
23% of organizations and businesses are in a precarious position with month to month leases
12% of organizations and businesses shared that they currently do not have or are in immediate danger of losing the space they need within the next year

Flex Spaces/Black Box Theaters and Classroom space are popular space requests.
When organizations and businesses were asked to identify what their ideal space would include:

49% indicated flexible performance space and black box theaters
52% asked for classrooms and teaching space
34% were interested in workspaces for individual artists

Click on the City’s Creative Space Survey page and scroll to the bottom for complete survey results.

1 comment

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1 comment

Fred July 18, 2018 - 12:33

Austin sucks for it, Houston sucks for it, and San Antonio is starting to suck for it. Artists should really think about moving to rural areas, it would also help counter dumbass voting in the sticks


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