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This is an archived post from our old blog. It's here for the sake of posterity (and to keep the search engines happy). Our new blog can be found at

Potential for Artists to Rent Commercial Property: Recent study illustrates opportunities and gaps

forsale_spaceAffordable space is a critical need for artists. A need being addressed in the field from many angles, including space subsidies, space grants, Fractured Atlas' own Spaces websites nationwide, resource sharing programs, co-working strategies, outreach into sacred spaces and more. One relatively untapped angle is vacant commercial property.

Dane County Planning & Development (Madison, Wisconsin) recently took the bold step of asking why artists and commercial property owners aren't getting together. By surveying hundreds of artists, property owners and municipal officials, the opportunities and gaps between these two parties in Dane County are now more tangible. The survey results were presented on Nov 15, 2012 by Brian Standing and Pamela Andros.

The findings of the survey are interesting (for example a fair number of commercial property owners said they never rented to artists simply because of never being asked), however for use in the field the questions and breakdown of answers on the survey are comprehensive of the needs and perceptions of both parties. This survey could be adapted for other organizations interested in tackling vacant commercial property as a strategy for creative space.

Property owner questions from the survey include:

Why not rent to artists?

What are the restrictions for use of your property?

What is the minimun square footage you would be willing to lease?

What is the minimum you could rent for per month?

What amenities does your property offer?

Artist questions from the survey include:

What is the minimum square footage necessary for you work?

What is the maximum you could pay per month?

What amenities are essential to your work?

Would you share a studio lease with another artist?

[caption id="attachment_9018" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Rental Rates from 'Make Do' survey courtesy of Dane County Planning & Development"]Rental Rates from 'Make Do' survey courtesy of Dane County Planning & Development[/caption]

Full survey results and more about Dane County Planning & Development's efforts around creative space can be found here.

Do you know of efforts in your community to get artists and commercial property owners talking?

Please share your knowledge with the network of creative folks who follow this blog by  commenting below, thanks.  - Lisa Niedermeyer