Los Angeles Arts District in the artist displacement stage
Last week the Los Angeles Times ran an article, "Arts District's changing landscape is worrisome to longtime residents," about how development pressures in the now in-demand Arts District is pushing up rents and the cost of housing, and is displacing artists.
There's not much new in the piece. The process remains the same. Especially in real estate markets that have the potential to be strong, for property to appreciate significantly in value. It's easy to "ward off" displacement in real estate submarkets where there is limited demand.
Artshare Los Angeles is a multifaceted arts organization which includes among its programs the provision of affordable live-work space for artists.
My piece from 2009, "Arts, culture districts and revitalization," which was the basis of a presentation at that year's annual conference for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas;," is still very much relevant.
The point it makes is that real estate developers can't be expected to be focused on the needs of artists, that artists, arts organizations, and planners need to ensure that artistic disciplines are represented by "their own plans." I made five points:
1. Create your own discipline-specific cultural plan
2. Come up with a sustainable cultural facilities plan for your community (with sub-elements for the various disciplines)
3. Create anchoring cultural institutions
4. Networking-representing cultural interests at the scale of the community
5. Sharing Audiences
But the LA Times article makes clear to me that I should have more clearly differentiated and defined a sixth point, the additional step of having arts-artist controlled community development corporations to acquire and hold properties--artist housing, arts spaces, rehearsal spaces, etc.--to maintain permanent affordability.
This is in line with the point I have been making lately about implementation organizations as an essential element of successful revitalization initiatives.
I took for granted that the cultural institution anchors would represent their interests in terms of real estate, the way that the Brooklyn Academy of Music ("Local planner gets the big job: Carlton Brown to plan centerpiece of BAM district," Brooklyn Paper), the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (history) or Cleveland's Playhouse Square ("PlayhouseSquare stars in its own real estate revival," and "40 years ago, a spark helps Cleveland's PlayhouseSquare find its way back to the lights," Cleveland Plain Dealer), although artist housing and individual studio space tends to be an afterthought in such programs, which tend to focus on creating big presenting facilities (performing arts centers, theaters, museums, etc.).
Note that ArtSpace, which operates at a national scale, does provide technical assistance and develops artist live-work housing across the country, but I think it's better that local organizations own and manage such properties rather than "national" organizations, which may have their own interests too, different from those of local organizations.