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Arts Group Wants to 'Break Cycle of Artists Being Pushed Out' With Survey

By Leslie Albrecht | January 18, 2017 5:23pm
 Arts Gowanus is surveying artists to see how many work in Gowanus and how much they pay for studio space.
Arts Gowanus is surveying artists to see how many work in Gowanus and how much they pay for studio space.
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Facebook/Arts Gowanus

GOWANUS — Artists, it's time to stand up and be counted.

The nonprofit Arts Gowanus is surveying local painters, sculptors and other creators to find out how many artists currently work in Gowanus, how many have left the fast-changing neighborhood, and how much they pay for studio space.

The survey comes as rents are shooting up in the neighborhood and hundreds of artists face displacement as developers turn former warehouses into offices and retail space.

Arts Gowanus wants to use the survey data to help guide the Department of City Planning as it considers a rezoning that will likely bring residential development to mostly industrial Gowanus, which could lead to artists losing work space.

"We all know rents are going up," said Arts Gowanus executive director Abby Subak. "We wanted to pinpoint it with real numbers so that as we're talking with the city, we have more than just hunches about what's going on."

The questionnaire is open to anyone who's ever had a studio space in Gowanus, even if they left years ago, Subak said. The survey seeks to find out where artists went after leaving the neighborhood, and also asks what amenities are important to artists, such as loading docks or ventilation.

"Your answers in this survey will enable Arts Gowanus to show clearly that there is a critical mass of artists in Gowanus," the group posted on its website. "[W]e are your advocates and want to break the typical cycle of artists being pushed out of our neighborhoods (in Gowanus and beyond)."

City Councilman Brad Lander's Bridging Gowanus planning framework, which will help guide city planning’s rezoning discussions, recommends preserving Gowanus' art spaces.

That could be accomplished with a new type of mixed-use zoning that would require residential developers to preserve or create art spaces when they build new housing, according to Bridging Gowanus.

About 400 artists have filled out the survey so far, Subak said, and she's hoping for many more. It will be available online until at least the end of next week, and anyone who fills it out will be entered in a raffle to win $100 of supplies from Artist & Craftsman Supply.


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