It is no secret that local arts and artist communities accelerate economic growth, foster local businesses that great job opportunities, and improve the quality of life and sense of regional pride. Artspace, a unique nonprofit organization that supports, builds, and grows art communities across the United States, has chosen El Paso as the next node in its coast-to-coast network.
Artspace originated in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a non-profit that worked with Housing and Urban Development (HUB) to “placemake for creatives.” Artspace has developed more than 33 projects around the country in an effort to provide affordable living and working space for artists.
With the collaborative efforts of El Paso Community Foundation and the City of El Paso, Artspace will transform what was a vacant lot at the corner of Oregon and Missouri in downtown El Paso into affordable housing units for low-income artists, musicians, and creative.
The goal is to posit Artspace as a vital force in kick starting the revitalization of downtown by making it a point of attraction—made, programmed, and curated by artists and creative businesses.
Artspace, scheduled for completion in late November 2016, provides an essential residential, commercial, and workshop space for a diverse selection of local artists working in different artistic medium. This project will most certainly enhance the arts scene that already exists in the heart of downtown and surrounding areas in Central El Paso.
In the initial planning stages of Artspace, a survey was conducted asking local artists to indicate their interest in a low-income housing project that provided high quality of life for artist residents. “The response was overwhelming,” says Katherine Brennand, one of the founders of El Paso Community Foundation, a key player in bringing Artspace to El Paso, and lovingly known as the “arts wonder woman.”
The Artspace El Paso Lofts will feature 51 affordable residence-studio units for artists and their families with 5,000 square feet of multi-purpose, commercial space for locally-owned creative businesses. Anyone can apply but selection will be based on income limit requirements, contribution to the art community, as well as background and credit check.
The building will also boast of a large community gallery and a community lounge for meetings, events, exhibitions, collaboration, and performances, as well as a workshop space to host larger, more industrial equipment such as kiln, wood-working, and welding tools. There will also be a non-profit, dedicated digital fabrication “maker space,” digital media gallery, and café on the first floor of the building run by Fab Lab El Paso.
“The rent will range based on your income level. So they range from about $250 for a one-bedroom unit all the way up to $800 or something for a three-bedroom unit,” says Eric Pearson, president of El Paso Community Foundation. The application for residents begin in mid-August.
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