Photograph by Katherine Ahern

Boston: Artists as Residents [Fast Cities 2010]

Boston has become a beacon for displaced and emerging artists, thanks to the city's innovative housing program. The Artist Space Initiative (ASI) is dedicated exclusively to artist housing issues, from surveying artist needs in live-work units to implementing zoning tweaks that allow them to reside in industrial areas. It encouraged foot traffic by securing ground-floor galleries in emerging neighborhoods and also created a peer-review system that guarantees artist spaces will be used only by artists. ArtBlock, for example, is an old schoolhouse the city granted to a developer on the promise that half of the renovation include art studios, galleries, and live-work units. "It's an effort to use our tools to create permanent space for artists," says Heidi Burbidge, ASI's senior project manager. "It's helped revive the art scene." ASI has already created hundreds of new housing opportunities and received more than 1,000 artist applications. Fear not, RISD grads: More residences are on the way, with new lofts opening later this year.

Photograph by Katherine Ahern

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  • Heidi Burbidge

    Thanks for showcasing our program to support development of permanent artist space in Boston--live/work and work-only space that serves the thousands of visual artists, performers, musicians, writers, new media and other creative folks that make Boston their home. Throughout economic fluctuations that result in neighborhood changes, Mayor Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority work with artists and real estate developers to ensure that space will endure for artists uses across Boston's diverse neighborhoods. You can visit our blog to see space listings, information about BRA Artist Certification, general Calls to Artists, and postings about upcoming events--subscribe to get future updates including bike tours to visit Artist Open Studios. www.artistspaceboston.wordpres...