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Thread: Artists Fleeing NYC!

  1. #1

    Default Artists Fleeing NYC!

    Here's another one of those articles that turn up every now and then:

    Artists fleeing the city
    High cost of living, fewer part-time jobs drive them out of New York.


    Crain's Business - November 14, 2010

    For 25 years, Elyas Khan tried to make it as a musician in New York. The front man for the band Nervous Cabaret, Mr. Khan lived in at least 20 places, from Bay Ridge to Washington Heights, moving each time his lease expired and the landlord jacked up the rent. He worked so many part-time jobs to make ends meet that he barely had time to compose new songs.

    Two years ago, he and his wife, Melissa, got the boot from their live/work space in Dumbo when the landlord turned the building into luxury commercial space. That was the day Mr. Khan gave up on New York.

    Now, the couple lives in Berlin in a two-bedroom apartment they rent for $750. Mr. Khan has a music studio with views of the city where he is finishing a solo record. His band has booked a European tour for December. And after living without health insurance for two decades, Mr. Khan visited a dentist for the first time in 22 years.

    “In New York, you have so much pressure to survive, you don't even know what you did that day,” he says from his home in Berlin.

    Artists have long struggled in New York, moving into rough areas, gentrifying them and then getting forced out. But as the city has gotten increasingly expensive, there are few such neighborhoods left to move to, forcing a growing number of artists to abandon the city. Many had hoped the recession would bring down rents, making it easier for them to stay. Instead, rents have barely dropped, and the part-time jobs they depend on for survival have become harder to find. Without a strong arts community, New York risks losing its standing as a creative center, which could have a negative impact on numerous industries that depend on talented employees.

    Though there are no official numbers, a survey of 1,000 artists conducted in 2009 by the New York Foundation for the Arts found that more than 43% expected their annual income to drop by 26% to 50% over the next six months, and 11% believed they would have to leave New York within six months. Even more troubling, cultural boosters say, is that for the first time, artists fresh out of art schools around the country are choosing to live in nascent artist communities in regional cities like Detroit and Cleveland—which are dangling incentives to attract this group—and bypassing New York altogether.

    Those cities offer large neighborhoods full of cheap but decrepit real estate, something that New York had back in the 1960s, when a major arts community developed here. By 1985, there were 5,500 artists living in SoHo, with 300 galleries in the same neighborhood. As that neighborhood gentrified, the galleries moved to Chelsea and the artists dispersed. A number of them went to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but by the middle of this decade, that area had become expensive, too.

    “How much can the city grow culturally if everyone is bouncing around and doesn't even know if they're going to be there next year?” asks Mr. Khan.

    NOT MADE HERE
    Industry experts worry that New York will become a place where art is presented but not made, turning the city into an institutionalized sort of Disney Land. One arts executive says it could become “a Washington, D.C.,” a sterile, planned city with a number of cultural institutions but few artists—certainly not a place known as a birthplace for new cultural ideas and trends.

    Indeed, the loss of the city's creative sector could take away New York's status as an innovator and hurt numerous industries that rely on this group, from advertising to Broadway.

    “The artist drain is one of the city's biggest problems,” says Ted Berger, executive director of New York Creates. “You need a creative talent pool from which all industries can draw. When you've lost that, you're not keeping your competitive advantage.”

    Of course, not every artist is leaving. But even those devoted to staying admit it has become more of a struggle since the recession. And with no single neighborhood offering a critical mass of places with cheap rents, artists in New York have dispersed across the city looking for deals, losing the sense of community that is central to creativity.

    Scott Goodman, a visual artist who graduated from Cooper Union, rents a room in an apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant for $600 a month and pays $300 to share a studio with 12 other artists across the street. To pay the bills, he works nearly 60 hours a week at a sign shop in Chelsea, which leaves him little time to create his art.

    “There is no doubt that things have become more difficult for artists since the recession because there's no funding for grants and there are no buyers,” Mr. Goodman says.

    Despite the hardship, Mr. Goodman will stay put. “My world is in New York City,” he says. “I grew up here, and I don't plan on moving.”

    Many of Mr. Goodman's peers aren't so loyal. Though the bulk of the nation's galleries are still here, artists and other creative workers say the feeling of community that used to exist in New York is gone, and with it, the spark that fueled ideas. Even though they are closer to the dealer community, if they don't have the time and energy to create good work, there is a better chance of making it big elsewhere.

    Jeff Davis, an artist whose company, Vinylux, makes artifacts like clocks and mirrors out of recycled records, came to the city for art school at New York University 17 years ago. Like people in other industries, Mr. Davis decided to leave the city when his wife was pregnant with their second child and they couldn't afford to upgrade their apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

    Three years ago, they moved to Philadelphia. Because the rent is so much cheaper there and the city is full of empty manufacturing buildings, Mr. Davis has been able to grow his company simply because he has more space. “There's no major place to go now in New York for artists that's worth it,” he says.

    Many of the artists moving to Philadelphia are able to buy their own living and studio space, eliminating the problem of landlords jacking up their rent. Christopher Plant, a real estate agent who moved to Philadelphia after years of working as a lighting designer and production director for dance companies in New York, says he has helped more than a dozen artists make the move in the past few years.

    Other so-called second tier cities are giving New York a run for its money by actively courting artists with incentive programs and housing deals. In the Cleveland neighborhood of Collinwood, the Northeast Shores Development Corp. has bought 16 vacant properties and renovated them as artists' residences. All but four have sold, and the development company plans to renovate more properties.

    CALLING CLEVELAND
    Brian Friedman, executive director of Northeast Shores, says that during the past few months, he has been getting regular calls and visits from artists and musicians interested in relocating from Brooklyn.

    “We thought we'd be attracting artists from Cleveland,” he says. “I had no idea we'd be getting contacted regularly by people from New York.”

    New York arts executives say their biggest concern is one they have no way to measure but are nevertheless convinced of: that art school graduates aren't even attempting to move to New York at the beginning of their careers. Mr. Davis of Vinylux says five of his employees are graduates of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design who moved straight to Philadelphia after graduation.

    “Now, the smartest kid has a whole set of options; the best and the brightest go to Berlin, or Austin, Portland or Minneapolis,” says Robert Elmes, director of Galapagos Art Space, a Dumbo performance space for emerging artists, that is opening a venue in Berlin. “The recession has created a situation where people don't consider New York City to be a place of opportunity.”

    Arts advocates are beginning to lobby New York City to offer concessions to make it competitive again with other cities. Last month, the Center for an Urban Future published a report about ways the city could stop the exodus by incentivizing real estate developers to create affordable live/work spaces for artists.

    Paul Nagle, former cultural head for City Council member Alan Gerson, just launched a think tank called the Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability to help shape public policy that strengthens the role of art in civic life.

    And Anne-Brigitte Sirois, director of real estate development for the arts at Art State, a real estate firm that specializes in using cultural development to improve urban areas, is working on a documentary film about the flight of artists out of New York City. She hopes to organize a major artists' protest at City Hall to coincide with the debut of the documentary in about six months, and draw attention to their plight.

    For now at least, many artists see an uphill battle. Katya Tepper, a painter and performance artist who graduated from Cooper Union in May, is moving to Chicago the day her lease expires in March.

    “There was a romanticism about being an artist in New York that was handed down in stories, but no artist I know is living that kind of life here,” Ms. Tepper says. “In other cities where space is affordable, artists are now living the kind of life we dreamed about in New York.”

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...FREE/311149985

    ^ And look at the gal in the photo that accompanies the article. Are you guys gonna miss her or what?
    Last edited by Fabrizio; November 24th, 2010 at 10:14 AM.

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  3. #3

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    I am being nice.

    (If I wanted to be mean I would have commented on her art work.)

  4. #4
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    zing!

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    In other breaking news, fire and the wheel have been discovered.

  6. #6

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    “We thought we'd be attracting artists from Cleveland,” he says. “I had no idea we'd be getting contacted regularly by people from New York.”
    You are attracting artist from Cleavland -that moved to NY and couldn't make it!
    I know of no artist that would actually want to move to Cleavland...
    I went there one time- to pick up another artist friend, who made the mistake of moving there...couldn't get out of that boring dump fast enough!
    If ever a place could suck the creative energy outta someone....

  7. #7
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    You are attracting artist from Cleavland -that moved to NY and couldn't make it!
    I know of no artist that would actually want to move to Cleavland...
    I went there one time- to pick up another artist friend, who made the mistake of moving there...couldn't get out of that boring dump fast enough!
    If ever a place could suck the creative energy outta someone....
    Cleavland: Home of the Push-Up Bra.

    Official bird: The Titmouse

    Slogan: "Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of Ya-Ya's"

  8. #8
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    I went there one time- to pick up another artist friend, who made the mistake of moving there...couldn't get out of that boring dump fast enough!
    ^ Hitting the nail squarely on the head -

  9. #9

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    Yesterday the HuffingtonPost reported on America's most dangerous cities. NYC is nowhere on the list but Cleveland came in 7th.

    I have a feeling that danger in Cleveland is nothing worth getting killed over.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/1...0.html#s188549

  10. #10

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    Heard that yesterday on the news. Camden finally number 2, but probably not by much.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    in other breaking news, fire and the wheel have been discovered.
    lmao!!!!!!

  12. #12
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Enforcing Utopia

    At the original artists’ housing complex, change may be in the air. Is Westbeth a success or a relic? Or both?

    By S.Jhoanna Robledo


    A moment in Westbeth's courtyard, 1979; Meier and Williams's balconies, present day.

    Four decades ago, the big industrial buildings of the far West Village were emptying out, and one of the biggest and emptiest was the old Bell Laboratories at West and Bethune Streets. The buzzword of the day was “adaptive reuse,” and it was an avant-garde idea, back then, to turn the hulking structure into artists’ housing. Richard Meier and Tod Williams, then up-and-coming architects, did the job, adding distinctive semicircular balconies in the courtyard, and the complex took the name Westbeth. Rents would be kept low by its nonprofit-foundation owners. In Westbeth’s first years, the poet Muriel Rukeyser and the photographer Diane Arbus moved in, and Merce Cunningham kept a dance studio here. It was a fabulous deal, and the waiting list for apartments grew daunting.

    Forty years on, downtown is a different place. Lofts nearby sell for more than Westbeth’s entire annual rent roll. The term “adaptive reuse” has all but disappeared, because it’s just the way we live. Yet the Westbeth experiment remains frozen in 1970.

    The admission rules have barely changed: working artists only, with three references. Right now, studios at the 383-unit complex go for $650; one-bedrooms, around $800; two-bedrooms for $950; and three-bedrooms, $1,100. There are modest surcharges added if a tenant is making big money, but rates fall back to the base level if someone’s finances go south. “It’s very helpful not to have to worry,” says Isabel Borgata, a sculptor and 25-year resident. Plus “it’s emotional support. Everyone here has common interests, common goals.”

    And common concerns. The buildings are nearly 120 years old, and the late-sixties rebuild is aging. Brick is crumbling, the plumbing is ancient, and a charming shabbiness prevails. The complex is likely to gain city-landmark status next year, but that won’t fix the roof. “Because we have the rent so low, we don’t have a capital-reserve account,” says Steve Neil, executive director of Westbeth Center for the Arts, which runs the complex.

    A big question mark looms over next June, when Westbeth will pay off its mortgage. “Under our tax abatement, if we do not enter into another regulatory agreement, we must then enter rent stabilization,” says George Cominskie, president of the Westbeth Artists Residents’ Council, a tenants’ group. “It is better than having no protections, but there are serious concerns … For 40 years, our rents have been tied to income.” Under stabilization’s more rigid rules, rents would likely start to creep up. Some residents worry that the artists-only rule would be in jeopardy, though Neil maintains that Westbeth absolutely will “remain affordable housing for artists.” After the anniversary fêtes of 2010, an unease is settling over 2011. “The board is going to make decisions which could affect the rest of our lives,” Cominskie says. “We are all wondering what’s going to happen.”

    That uncertainty particularly affects the old-timers—and there are many. Westbeth is heavily stocked with longtime tenants, some fantastically talented, some less so. “The original hope was there would be continuing groups of new people, and after a reasonable amount of time they would move on,” says Joan Kaplan Davidson, whose father’s foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, helped establish Westbeth. “But when it opened, it was the best deal in town, and I believe it still is.”

    Which brings up an awkward question. Is Westbeth’s stasis a sign of success, because its mission has been to preserve artists’ presence in the neighborhood? Or is this building a retirement home for people who never quite got to the top? “The city is full of people not named Meryl Streep or Merce Cunningham,” says Neil. “It’s for [those] who get up every day and do their art. They don’t have to be monetarily successful. If we get a Diane Arbus, that’s a bonus.” Fame, or potential fame, is not part of the ethos of Westbeth, and the lack of it is not a barrier to entry.

    That said, fresh talent does come off the wait list now and then. The mixed-media artist Claudia Vargas is the newest resident; she and her two children arrived in September, after a decade of annual applications. Now, she says, she can see to the business side of being an artist—like getting gallerists to visit her studio, which is far more difficult when you live in Washington Heights, as she did. “Forget about it,” she says.

    “They never go out there.”

    http://nymag.com/realestate/realestatecolumn/69640/

  13. #13

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    This much sad news because art is life. As artist I know this. Mr Artists please not flee New York City!

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