Rising Rents Leave Artists Out in the Cold

THE NEW YORK TIMES — Artists have wedged their canvases and supplies into their apartments. Others are working in hurricane-torn basements or in temporary, borrowed spaces. As their creative spaces have shrunk, so, too, has their art — if, that is, they still make art.

It’s been over six months since some four dozen artists lost their studios in Industry City, a sprawling factory complex on the Brooklyn waterfront. Many had spent decades hopping from studio to studio, from borough to borough. But according to interviews with over two dozen of the displaced, that practice of alighting in new, ungentrified neighborhoods has, at least for them, ground to something of a halt, hampered by a common refrain in New York: Rents are rising too fast.

Being studioless, some have put their art careers aside. Others have begun to ask: If they can’t afford gritty, unglamorous Industry City, then where?

“All I can see is going further out, then having to move again,” said Richard Castellana, a 73-year-old painter who has moved studios 10 times in 40 years. “I just can’t take it anymore.”

“Finding stable, affordable space anywhere in the five boroughs is increasingly hard,” Paul Parkhill, who heads Spaceworks, a nonprofit group that seeks to build affordable studios, wrote in an email. “This also impacts small industrial businesses. Outer borough commercial and industrial space is very tight.” […]

Few deny the squeeze on affordable studios, and in 2011, the city’s Cultural Affairs Department helped found Spaceworks. Mr. Parkhill, its head, queried a wide swath of artists about studio affordability and found that most could pay $250 to $400 a month. His organization aims to secure long leases on underoccupied buildings and rent out spaces in that range. Though much of its work is in the planning stage, a pilot program in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn drew 55 applications for two spots.

Read the full article.