Room for Creativity: The Role of Affordable Artists' Live/Work Space in the New Economy

By Paul Nagle.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As the competition for skilled knowledge workers heats up, urban policymakers around the world have begun to use arts and culture to create attractive and distinctive cities that will draw this talented and mobile workforce. Digitization has not made “place” irrelevant. Agglomeration still provides economy of scale and access to markets. Additionally, the clustering of talent provides the incubator for milieux of innovation, a necessary draw for high tech industries. When the arts are employed to drive urban revitalization, they eventually create gentrification that prices them out of their own created neighborhoods. Without public policy intervention, the artists are driven out and community sustainability becomes threatened by a lack of vibrancy and mixed-income economic activity. Cultural policy research is just beginning to grapple with these new realities, starting from a disadvantaged position of never having created the kinds of statistical indicators that have served the other social sciences in advocating with policymakers. Nevertheless, based on overwhelmingly consistent accumulated anecdotal experience, cities around the United States have begun to explore strategies to sustain the arts, so as not to exhaust the resource that is serving them so well. These strategies include programs to create affordable artists live/work spaces. The result is that New York City, which has no such strategy, is losing its arts base to these cities.

Keywords: Live/Work Space, Arts and Economic Development, Arts and Urban Planning, Cultural Development, Artists and Gentrification

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.73-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 569.328KB).

Paul Nagle

Director of Communications & Cultural Policy, Office of District 1, New York City Council, New York, NY, USA

Paul Nagle had a background as playwright, theatrical producer, and executive director of a five story, 80,000 sq. ft. multi-disciplinary urban cultural center before accepting his current job with New York City Council Member Alan J. Gerson, who represents Lower Manhattan. In 2002, his self-created role of Arts & Culture Liaison was a precedent-setting position. Cultural policy staff within the offices of NYC elected officials has now become a growing trend. Mr. Nagle's driving ambition is to create and implement public policy interventions for infrastructure support of artists and arts organizations as sound economic development and a necessary strategy for preserving mixed-income neighborhoods, diverse economic activity and urban competitiveness. He holds a B.A and has just finished his M.A. work, both at the Gallatin School of Individualized Studies at New York University. His concentrations were arts administration, municipal policy and international cultural policy research.


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