Founded in 1973, The Emeryville Artists Co-op has structured itself as a non-profit, limited-equity housing cooperative and expanded to nearly 60 studios in three buildings over the years. It is considered “a national model for affordable artist-owned housing” according to their website. Emeryville has for decades been able to maintain its’ Artistic core by providing affordable live/work space for the artists that helped define it. Artists that have been traditionally pushed out of industrial areas like San Francisco when the studios they rent become coveted by technology startups or high-density housing developers (one of many aspects of the complicated “Gentrification” topic).
The Arts give a city vibrancy and plant the seeds of economic growth but often lead to increased real estate prices and end up forcing out the artists that helped establish the culture that residents flock to. The Huffington Post profiles how communities like Emeryville, Minneapolis and others are combating the exodus of artists by providing a more stable model for living and other financial support including grants and the creation of supportive foundations. It’s an ongoing battle though and more creative methods are being sought to help stave off this “cultural crisis” and maintain our “creative city” reputation.
Gentrification: Artists in Emeryville Saw It Coming
By John M. Eger
Ann Weber, a sculptor from Emeryville, California, one of the rapidly emerging “creative cities” author Richard Florida talks about in The Rise of the Creative Class, is just ending her “artist in residency” at the LUX Institute in Encinitas, CA. She is going home to her live/work studio in Emeryville, California, an unusual coop that provides affordable artist-owned housing.
Started in 1973, it has “grown from a dozen studios in one converted warehouse building to nearly 60 studios in three buildings.” The artists renovated obsolete industrial warehouses into live/work spaces, and now offer tours to those living or just visiting Emeryville–thereby enriching the city of Emeryville culturally; and established a Youth Art Program which initially offered tutorials and field trips to promising high school students. The Cooperative’s Emeryville Youth Program has now been “integrated into the Emeryville Unified arts curriculum bringing professional artists into the classroom.”
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