October 25, 2013

Take the Mesa Artspace Survey!

by: David Crummey

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Today’s article is by guest writer David Crummey:

Arts. Artists. Creativity. Beauty. The way we move. The heart of a city. The physical infrastructure of a city’s soul. Art imbues our very selves; how we commune, how we interact, and how we build our cities. Ensuring that art has a table in our conversations, in our thoughts; assuring that we keep art — beauty — close to us as we take each step into the future, it is that which will make our cities grand.

I know this isn’t the the forum to expound upon why art is important, we get that. We know that our investments in the arts are integral to pulling our weight in the global marketplace. We know that creativity is essential to business and innovation. We know that the nextgreatthing comes from outside our comfort zone — from that mix of people, places and ideas that is at home in urban places.

We also know that as our communities develop, ensuring affordable living and working space for artists becomes a challenge.

To that end, I introduce the Artspace market study. It is a survey of artists, arts-organizations and creative businesses Valley-wide with the goal of creating a new, affordable, multi-purpose creative facility where artists of all disciplines may live, work, and create, as well as space where arts-related organizations and businesses can thrive. Great work is being done throughout the Valley to create creative communities, great places for artists to live and work, and this follows on the heels of those intrepid souls.

[Take and share this survey: www.ArtspaceMesa.org]

This survey is the second step in a feasibility process, which began in October 2012 when the City of Mesa and the Mesa Arts Center invited Artspace to assess the potential for a multi-use creative facility to be developed in Mesa along light-rail. The survey project is a critical next step in this important study.

Two surveys are available; one for artists, and one for arts and cultural organizations and creative businesses. Both surveys are available at www.ArtspaceMesa.org. Please take a moment to take the survey yourself, and share it with your creative colleagues, arts-organizations and businesses.

Artspace is a national, non-profit developer of artist living and working spaces. They run a network of 33 affordable arts facilities in 13 states.  These facilities provide more than 1,100 affordable live/work units for artists and their families as well as a million square feet of nonresidential space for artists, arts organizations and creative enterprises. Overall, their projects represent a $500 million investment in America’s arts infrastructure. This would be their first project built in Arizona. The survey and predevelopment of the Artspace project is being funded by significant contributions from JPMorgan Chase, LISC Phoenix and the City of Mesa.

It’s not about Mesa.

Eight other valley cities, including Tempe, Phoenix, Gilbert and Peoria will stand to benefit from this survey. By understanding what our artists and creative businesses need throughout the valley, we can work to address those needs, but we have to stand up to be counted. This Artspace survey is our way to make sure that our voices are being heard; that we’re standing up and letting our key-influencers know what needs to be done in the valley.

But, it is all about Mesa.

Mesa has begun an investment in the arts. Mesa’s citizens built the Mesa Arts Center, the largest comprehensive arts-campus in the southwest in 2005. Our leaders get it — Mayor Smith said at the launch of this survey that “It is a mistake to look at arts and culture as an amenity; it is part of the heart and soul of a city.” We know that, and it means a lot to hear it said by our leaders.

We also know that it’s not just about arts — that our very infrastructure needs to be amenable to creativity. We know that walkable urban spaces encourage that creativity. We are stepping up with substantial investments in streetscape improvements, bike-sharing, light rail, bus-rapid transit, transit-oriented development, and with that we take steps closer to creating that nexus of activity that encourages innovation and collaboration.

We know it’s not just about public investment, that the private sector has a place here as well — from our small galleries and artist-entrepreneurs to huge projects like Consolari, a proposed music mecca to include a concert hall, music education from Juilliard and spaces for people of all walks of life to be touched — and healed by music.

We know it’s not easy, but that we have to do the work.

It’s important that this survey gets out to as many people and artists as possible. We’re aiming for at least 5,400 responses from as diverse a population as we can find. Artists that run the gamut from poets and writers to painters and illustrators to architects, dancers and designers — and to everyone in between.

You can share the URL www.ArtspaceMesa.org or share the survey on Facebook at facebook.com/ArtspaceMesa

The survey closes November 19.

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