Art Space is a developer that provides affordable housing and space for artists within a local community. Art Space developers have set up 50 locations throughout the country and are now focused on Utica. The process of getting Art Space began with a site visit, then in November of 2015 they did a feasibility study.
Michelle Truett is a Rust to Green representative working to bring Art Space to Utica. She explains how overwhelming the response of the feasibility study is.
"For a city our size at about 61-62,000 we got 585 responses, and they showed us what Denver did, and Denver is a city of 600,000, and they got about 850-900, so the number for a city our size was very impressive to Art Space."
Robert Heins is an Architect working on bringing Art Space to our area. He says while there is an overwhelming interested, the price tag needed to bring Art Space here is going to be a challenge.
"We’re going to need to raise $150,000 for this part, and those cover costs that Art Space .org the non-profit is going to incur to the process that we end up with a site, we’ve got a commitment for a site, studies that have to be done on it, and so we’re just at the start."
Once that phase is complete, an additional $400,000 will be needed to cover ‘soft costs’ of the project. That brings the total cost of bringing Art Space to Utica a little over half a million dollars, but Robert Heins believes the project is certainly doable.
"It looks daunting. It is daunting. That’s a lot of money, and if it was specifically that we had to do this in the city ourselves, it would be probably almost impossible."
Much of the money needed would come through government grants and incentives. There is a consolidated funding application due early this summer. The final project is projected to be fully complete in the spring of 2021.
So what are the benefits of bringing Art Space to Utica?
Art is alive and growing in the City of Utica. You’ll even begin to see a streetscape art gallery going up right along Genesee Street.
Michelle Truett talks about the art poping up throughout the community.
"We’re taking 35 banners that feature 70 Utica Artists. They all either live, work, or have studio space in Utica, and the Artist range from High School Students from 3 of our High Schools up to College Students at Pratt and SUNY and MVCCC to Professors and Professional Artists."
But being a successful Artist often means sacrificing a good income. That’s why Art Space developers are looking to invest up to $20 million to provide local artists with affordable housing and space to do their art.
Robert Heins: "It’s a lot of money. No question about it, and we’re not passing the plate. We have to have a really concise plan, and that’s what we’ll be doing over the next couple of months, is really working out that plan."
Heins says the money needed to bring the project to Utica is not only doable, but would have an economic impact. Tom Montan, the Executive Director at Sculpture Space believes if anyone can raise the money, it’s this community.
"Raising funds in upstate New York is a challenge for all non-profits, and it’s a big challenge, but I think that as you indicated to me earlier, there is an interest here in the community. When there’s an interest here I’ve seen people move mountains here in Utica for sure."
Painting mountains may be a good way to raise the money. Connie Pratt opened up Art & Vine three years ago, and has seen what bringing art to the community can do.
"When the arts come into an older neighborhood, businesses follow, and we’ve seen that in so many different cities."
Tom Montan, Sculpture Space Executive Director: "Culture art activity is a huge cultural…. A huge economic driver and it drives economies. I just moved here from California about a year and a half ago and what I saw in the community out there is the more art there is, the wealthier the community becomes."
Robert Heins: "So it really is economic development, and it creates real jobs and it creates a tax base. They’re going to be paying taxes, so the feasibility of doing it to me is very strong."
So the next time you happen to see art in Utica, consider the financial impact it’s making to the local community.