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Survey seeks input to design Arkansas spaces for artists

July 30, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Local artists can participate in a survey that asks what type of affordable living, working or display spaces they want to see in Northwest Arkansas.

Representatives from Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that assists in artistic and cultural facility planning efforts nationwide, recently released an Arts Market Survey to begin phase two of a regional arts planning initiative. They will present a report at the end of the year to community leaders and developers who could create more spaces designed for artists, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The Walton Family Foundation awarded Artspace $400,000 to determine the potential for projects in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville. Artspace representatives began planning in December and have since visited potential sites for art development and conducted a preliminary feasibility study for the concept report, said Anna Growcott, Artspace director of consulting and strategic partnerships.

The survey serves to quantify community artists’ needs and requests, Teri Deaver, Artspace vice president of consulting and strategic partnerships, said during the launch event in Fayetteville.

“Each community has its own personality and its own needs,” Deaver said. “That needs to be reflected in the concept, and that comes through this market survey work.”

Artspace is focusing on three types of potential building projects: live-work units, creative workspaces and collaborative or shared spaces, Deaver said. Live-work units could give artists and their families a lower-cost housing option with workspace available in the same building, creative workspace could serve as a commercial building and shared spaces could be rented for different time periods.

Jeannie Hulen is a chairwoman of Artspace’s core advisory group in Fayetteville and associate dean of fine arts for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. UA does not have an official partnership with Artspace, but Hulen thinks that a project in the college town will benefit artists coming and going from the university, she said.

Hulen thinks Fayetteville needs more affordable places to live and studio spaces for artists of all disciplines, she said.

“They live where they can afford,” Hulen said. “We really need to get people back into the city.”

The survey is geared toward people looking for an artistic space, but anyone committed to creating art may participate, Deaver said.

“If you consider your work to be cultural or creative or artistic, we probably would as well,” Deaver said.

The survey should provide a sense of the artistic community’s demographic, preferred size and location of spaces, amenities and other information that will influence the project’s outcome over the next few years, Deaver said.

Artspace representatives intend to reach Northwest Arkansas artists, but people outside the four cities may participate, Growcott said. Past surveys have attracted artists from around the country or world who are interested in relocating, but she expects local artists will have the most influence. Survey participants have the option to leave contact information online and receive project updates, which usually allows locals first choice to use the space once available.

This initiative marks the group’s first in Arkansas and first regional approach involving multiple cities, Growcott said. The goal is to arrange a project for each city, but the study, survey and community input will determine the outcome.

“It is not a competition,” Growcott said. “It is really to try to figure out what makes the most sense for each of the four cities.”

Growcott expects that private and public partnerships will form to complete the projects after they present the final report at a public meeting in December. Officials will then determine sources of funding and set budgets.

About 50 people attended the public launch event in Fayetteville. The survey will remain open until Sept. 10 at www.ArtspaceNWAsurvey.org.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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