February 06 2013

Making a Place for Artists in New Orleans

Blue Plate Artist Lofts

A problem often seen in up and coming neighborhoods is that the very artists who help spark great communities are priced out when the area takes off. In a city that is known to the world for its art and music, New Orleans is making great efforts to keep artists in the community even as gentrification takes place.

Over the past five years, artist-focused low-income housing has been developed throughout New Orleans, helping artists stay in the community. Making use of underused and blighted properties, recent artist housing developments include Bywater Art Lofts, St. Joe Lofts, and Blue Plate Artist Lofts. More is on the way with Artspace, a Minneapolis based nonprofit, which is planning to convert the abandoned Bell School property in Treme into artist housing and community resource space. By attracting a community of artists in a concentrated area, developers have also helped catalyze neighborhood revitalization.

These housing communities have many characteristics that make them appealing to artists:

  • Affordability – Through a combination of historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits and cultural facility grants, developers are able to provide artists with an affordable fixed rent. Bywater Art Lofts offers tiers of income-restricted affordability, starting as low as $160 per month for a one bedroom apartment. Stable, affordable rents enable artists to stay in the community as the neighborhood becomes more desirable and more expensive;
  • AmenitiesArchitectural features such as utility sinks for washing paint brushes and tools, soundproof rehearsal rooms for musicians, interior spaces with a modern design, and gallery spaces to display and sell artwork make these developments ideal for artists;
  • Community – With a stated leasing preference for artists, these housing complexes create a community of artists all in one place, fostering more creativity, collaboration and motivation to complete more artwork.

Bell School Arts Campus

By creating low-income housing developments specifically for artists, developers are fostering a creative community that won’t be priced out as neighborhoods increase in value. With art and music so integral to the city of New Orleans, artist housing promotes a strong and active arts community as part of a vibrant local economy.

What other benefits do artist communities bring to a city?

Credits: Photos by Jessica Yoon. Data linked to sources.

Jessica Yoon

Jessica Yoon is a native Oregonian, currently residing in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University, where she became interested in how great places can promote both equity and prosperity. She is primarily interested in how smart planning and design initiatives, combined with inspired real estate development projects, can create wonderful urban places for people to live, work, and thrive. Jessica reports on new initiatives and urban developments in New Orleans, where a fast pace of progress raises hope for a vibrant future for the city and region. Beyond her work as a marketing professional and blogger, Jessica enjoys riding her bicycle, eating her way through the city’s food scene, and listening to economics podcasts.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 at 9:37 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Housing, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “Making a Place for Artists in New Orleans”

  1. terry scott Says:

    This old trope as artistas victims takes on a different dynamic in New Orleans where most
    of the new artist housing has gone to white folks. New Orleans exists because of black culture: food, music, dance, etc.

    It’s the Artist Colonization Process, were you invited? “A problem often seen in up and coming neighborhoods is that the very artists who help spark great communities are priced out when the area takes off.” Who do artists price out, in fact who asked you to come into my neighborhood?. #justsayin



    Hi… I would like to spend this summer in New Orleans. I would like to participate on art projects in New Orleans. I am out of work here and I am looking for work so I can do art. A new start for me may happen there. I am 56. I know, No one here will hire me. I was a silk screen printer for 20 years. I paint ( Acrylic ) and I draw. I started to draw at 10 and started to paint at 30. I was down there last year. I fell in love with the city. If you are the right person that I should be talking to good, If not please pass me on to someone who can help me. I have some money, so I will not be coming broke. My children are going to help me with this project. Thank you for your time.

    4249 Richmond St Philadelphia PA 19137
    Cell 215 303 4238

  3. Kuba Says:

    I am interested in developing an artist colony – I have rural land across the river from the French Quarter, not far from Studio in the Woods – I’m looking to find the right person to bring it to fruition

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