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Group surveying Augusta residents on need for work, living space for artists

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:13 PM
Last updated Thursday, April 25, 2013 1:38 AM
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Without access to a studio, Chris Hardy settles in his bedroom closet with his guitar when he wants to record voice-overs or an album.

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People listen to Joe Butler, a project manager with Artspace, discuss opportunities for artists in the Augusta area during a community meeting.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
People listen to Joe Butler, a project manager with Artspace, discuss opportunities for artists in the Augusta area during a community meeting.

He ignores the shirts and pants hovering around him and focuses on the music. Still, a real booth with some breathing room and a sound system would be nice.

“The clothing hanging all around me is the soundproof system,” said Hardy, an Augusta-based musician and songwriter. “It doesn’t work too well.”

Finding creative work and living space can be a challenge for artists in Augusta, but a fledgling development plan could bring more resources if enough interest is shown. Artspace, a nonprofit real estate development company, launched an online survey for the Augusta area Wednesday meant to gauge what kind of needs local artists have and what they’d like to see built in the city.

It’s the first step before officials would develop a physical and financial strategy to build affordable housing and work spaces.

Artspace representatives, government officials and several local agencies held a launch event at the Old Academy of Richmond County building Wednesday with cocktails and conversation meant to bring the community together around the idea.

“By everybody standing in the room together, you’re expressing your desire to be a part of something big,” Matt Kwatinetz of the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project said to the crowd of about 200. “I ask you hold true to that beyond this launch event.”

Artspace first came to Augusta in April 2012 when representatives toured buildings that could be turned into work or living spaces.

They returned in March to prepare for the survey launch and to meet with government officials and city leaders about the community’s art culture, Artspace project manager Joe Butler said.

Artspace, has completed 32 arts facilities in 13 states and has provided more than 1,000 apartments for artists and their families.

The organization has turned a historic hospital in Texas into a $6.3 million loft with living and work spaces and took over an abandoned construction project in Seattle and finished it into a building with apartments, galleries and work areas.

Almost 60 percent of the projects’ budgets come from federal low-income housing tax credits, while other public funding or philanthropic support covers other costs.

The living spaces are designed for artists who meet the low-income requirements, have an established body of work, are seriously committed to the arts and who make good neighbors, according Roy Close, the vice president of special projects.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said even nonartists have a vested interest in expanding the arts community.

Copenhaver said before the Starbucks manufacturing plant broke ground in Augusta last summer, the city was competing with Florence, S.C., to win the company’s interest. What tipped the scale in Augusta’s favor was the community’s budding art scene, which Copenhaver said is a must-have for new industry.

“There’s a direct correlation between the success of city’s arts and culture and the incoming development of businesses,” Copenhaver said. “This (Artspace project) would lead to more businesses coming in and developing here.”

Butler said the local survey will stay live until June 19, and results will be released in September. If the community asks for it, Artspace could start developing a financial and viability plan and identify which buildings could be utilized for projects in the fall.

Nothing, however, is for certain and Butler said no development will be forced.

“If we are not the right fit, we will thank you for your time and find what’s right for you,” Butler said.

Comments (17) Add comment
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countyman
19104
Points
countyman 04/25/13 - 01:39 am
3
1
Love it!!

We desperately need the mixed-use, creative class, revenue, culture, street level activity, and the cosmopolitan feel. I feel sorry for Charleston, Greenville, Chattanooga, Columbia, Greensboro, Knoxville, etc. They all started their on downtown revitalization before Augusta, and the median incomes/GDP/metro population are still on par.

Artspace will bring together all different types of people. Whether it's age, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.. A great way to break down the walls in the general community.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 07:26 am
3
1
Florence, SC

I find it interesting that the other main city being considered for the Starbucks facility was Florence, SC.

soapy_725
43553
Points
soapy_725 04/25/13 - 09:10 am
1
0
Government sponsored art and entertainment are
Unpublished

specifically addressed in the Constitution. NOT. Yet another victim minority in need of public assistance. Artist can't make it on their own? The starving ones are at a motel on Washington Rd. NOT Welcome to the collective malaise of the unemployed. More financial strain on our society. Another welfare program. Excuse me, an entitlement program. We could certainly use a few more fiddlers for the fire in America.

Little Lamb
43821
Points
Little Lamb 04/25/13 - 09:47 am
2
1
Demolition

If you click on Ms. McManus’ link above titled "Old Davidson school building may escape demotion" you can see this quote:

After the Richmond County Board of Education voted to demolish the decaying building last week, Minneapolis-based non-profit Artspace contacted a city partner Wednesday to ask it hold off on destroying the 80-year-old school. Board attorney Pete Fletcher said he was sending an e-mail to school board members Wednesday, asking permission to delay demolition until March 31, which he expects to be approved.

Well, March 31 has come and gone. Let's get on with the demolition.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 10:42 am
3
1
LL, I liked your other

LL, I liked your other suggestion better. Knock out the windows and take off the roof. Call it the ruins of Augusta like some Roman ruin.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 10:46 am
3
1
Countyman Rubbing It In

"I feel sorry for Charleston, Greenville, Chattanooga, Columbia, Greensboro, Knoxville, etc"

I believe Countyman is rubbing it into those decrepit, ugly cities just because he lives in vibrant, magnificient Augusta. Who would want to visit Charleston when they live in Augusta? Who needs the Atlantic Ocean when we have Merry Brickyard Ponds?

historylover
2757
Points
historylover 04/25/13 - 11:05 am
2
1
Available Venues

I'm not quite sure of two things in this article. First, why do artist need to be provided work space any more than any other self employed person. Why on God's green earth would they receive "federal low-income housing tax credits, while other public funding or philanthropic support covers other costs". Secondly, why are the existing art venues not utilized? i.e. Morris Museum of Art, Gertrude Herbert Art Institute, etc. I am a great supporter of the arts but not of throwing more money into an already failing downtown.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 11:15 am
3
0
I believe the commenters on

I believe the commenters on the Chronicle are artists, too. I want a building to write comments in, low cost housing, wine and a little black beret to wear.

countyman
19104
Points
countyman 04/25/13 - 01:00 pm
2
2
Downtown on the rise

Failing downtown? I don't think Artspace would even be interested if this were accurate. Eros Bistro, Farmhaus Burgers(mixed-use includes 12 apts), and Whiskey Bar Kitchen all recently opened. The Holiday Inn Express, 901 Broad(9 apts/4,300 sq. ft. of commercial), 905 Broad aka former WAGT building(restaurant & meeting space), Sprint Food & Metro Market(next to Augusta common: open air seating, 1st floor urban market: restaurant/convenience store & 2nd floor Sprint Food corporate offices and space for other tenants) are underway..

Artspace is a non profit, and nothing is stopping the other non profits from buildings things specifically to anybody. For some reason many people who don't consider themselves artist even want to live around them. The low income housing credits are used in order to keep the housing affordable. People and businesses always flock around the Artspace project. This causes the surrounding real estate prices to rise, and they want to make sure artist have somewhere affordable to live.

The Starbucks plant won the 2012 Georgia 'Deal of the Year Award'. Charleston started on their downtown revitalization years ago, but the median income/GDP/etc is still on par with Augusta. The improvement of the urban core will automatically push Augusta forward.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 02:46 pm
2
0
Charleston

Countyman, Charleston has a much, much higher income level than Augusta. Charleston County also has a much higher income level than Richmond County. But as far attracting others downtown, an arts building probably would work well to get more of the GBLT crowd that you have talked about.

countyman
19104
Points
countyman 04/25/13 - 04:48 pm
1
2
Facts vs opinions

Riverman, Can you please stop from presenting your opinions as facts?

2007-2011 median income average
Charleston county $44,587
Richmond County $39,090

How is the median income much higher? The median incomes of the MSA aka metro is even closer to each other.

The term is LGBT and not GBLT...

lieutenantkitten
14
Points
lieutenantkitten 04/25/13 - 04:20 pm
0
0
Historic Preservation

Obviously some of you needed to have attended last night, otherwise your posts would not sound so some absurd. Countyman is right, the downtown are is revitalizing as we speak. There are plenty of historic preservation opportunities to be considered. And, why, Little Lamb, are you so dead set on destroying another one of Augusta’s historic properties? Historylover, I am surprised that you are speaking up without much knowledge. You would have benefited from attending- perhaps you would have learned that there are more to artists besides being a painter. You are also naive to think that the Morris and the Gertrude Herbert are under utilized, and I am beginning to think your love of history is vastly lacking due to the fact that this history buff loved their use of a preserved building for a meeting space. Perhaps when the group, ArtSpace, is done assessing Augusta they will learn that in order for this artist community to thrive we need a space for people to work. Not all artists are “self-employed,” using their art as a source of income. What they help create could help people who have talent, but put it on the back burner due to lack of outlets. Why be so negative on something you have yet to experience?

Gage Creed
15658
Points
Gage Creed 04/25/13 - 06:47 pm
0
1
This is how math works...

This is how math works... 44587/39090= 1.1406 That means the median income of Charleston County is 14.06% higher than the median income of Richmond County. In most parts of the world 14% more of anything is considered significant. Math is your friend!

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/25/13 - 08:24 pm
1
1
Gage Creed, LOL

Gage Creed, LOL. Sometimes you just have to laugh. I don't even want to argue with him when he uses that math. But from the 2012 official U.S. Census Estimate. Richmond County has a median household income is $39,090 while Charleston County is $50,133.

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13245.html
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/45/45019.html

countyman
19104
Points
countyman 04/25/13 - 09:47 pm
1
1
Riverman, The median income

Riverman, The median income you presented is correct. I looked at the older median income of Greenville County by mistake instead of Charleston County. Let's not try to act like you don't sometimes present your opinions as facts though.

''Spend millions to renovate buildings for artist''..... Artspace is majority funded by housing credits..

''Owner doesn't have the Holiday Inn rights''..... The owner already had acquired the Holiday Inn name..

The link is the 2012 population, and the median income is the average between 2007-2011... That's not the median income of Richmond County in 2012.

The 2011 median income of the Augusta MSA was $45,368 and Charleston was $50,213..

Let's keep in mind Charleston is at the top compared to Greenville, Chattanooga, Columbia, etc.

Littlelamb. It's not my fault there's no amphitheater at Diamond Lakes. I love how you guys love to jump on my comments, but then continue to make false comments daily.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 04/26/13 - 05:20 am
1
1
Countyman, glad to see you

Countyman, glad to see you admit you are wrong now and then. It's a step in the right direction.

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