"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Location: Nationwide

Website: www.artspace.org

Founded in 1979 and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Artspace is the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts.

The mission of Artspace is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations.

Artspace owns and operates 30 projects in 19 cities and 13 states. Twenty-four of the 30 are live/work projects with a total of 1,008 residential units. The others are non-residential projects that provide space for artists and cultural organizations.

Many of the live/work projects also include non-residential space such as studios, offices for arts organizations, rehearsal and performance venues, and space for arts-friendly businesses.

A “live/work” project is a residential building in which each unit has extra space (usually 100 to 150 square feet) that the artist can use as a studio. Other design elements, such as high ceilings, large windows, durable surfaces, and wide doorways, accommodate a wide variety of creative processes. Artspace live/work projects also include common spaces that encourage cooperation and community involvement.

Communities interested in having an Artspace project invite Artspace to assess the feasibility of developing a project there. In an average year Artspace makes 20 to 25 feasibility visits to cities around the country; of these, two to four typically lead to projects.

In most cases an Artspace project takes from three to five years. As a nonprofit developer, Artspace does not bring its own investment capital to a new project. Instead, it assembles the requisite financial resources from a variety of public and private sources. This is a time-consuming process, but it has an important upside: Artspace projects are fully funded when it breaks ground.

The money come from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, CDBG and HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank funds, Tax Increment Financing, city and state cultural facility grants, a conventional first mortgage, and philanthropic gifts.

Artspace also utilizes federal, state, and local resources available through established funding programs that assist in the creation of affordable housing and economic development projects.

Artspace live/work projects qualify as affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households under Section 42 of the IRS Code. In setting rents, Artspace adheres to affordable housing guidelines set by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD uses a complex formula based on the Area Median Income (AMI) of the city or county in which the project is located, the degree of affordability of any given unit (expressed as a percentage of the AMI), the number of bedrooms in the unit, and the number of people in the artist’s household.

While rents vary by community, Artspace buildings provide live/work spaces that are significantly larger and usually less expensive than other comparable spaces. And Artspace buildings remain affordable in perpetuity.

Anyone who qualifies for affordable housing may apply for residency in an Artspace project, but we give preference to those applicants who participate in, and are committed to, the arts.

Artspace defines the term “artist” broadly to include a wide variety of creative pursuits, including arts forms such as clothing design, weaving and canoe making. All applicants are interviewed by a Selection Committee. The committee looks for evidence that the applicants are seriously committed to their art and that they will be good neighbors. The committee does not judge the quality of their work.

Artspace, unlike “turnkey” developers, remains involved as owner/operator of its projects. In this way, it ensures that rents remain affordable over the long term.

Artspace projects are financially self-sustaining through tenant rents, which are sufficient to meet mortgage payments and operating costs. Revenues in excess of expenses are set aside for preventive maintenance, commons area improvements, and building upgrades. To date, Artspace has never had to ask a community for support for a project.

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