Djcnor’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘gentrification

I’ve been viewing possible studio space over the last week in Unit 5 and STEW. The reasons I’m planning to move out of the St. Lawrence Textile Centre are (1) that I think I can get water and a toilet and a kitchen for the same amount and (2) the retail aspect is not working for me and I don’t really need it for the latest version of my business plans.

It amazes me that there is so little studio space available in a city with a university that offers degrees in several different arts that require such space. And that’s not the only school in the area offering such programs. Furthermore, Norwich has plenty of empty space, whole office buildings totally empty, lots of empty storefronts, whole strips of empty storefronts with office space over them.

After all, I have documented in this blog that regions “invaded” by numbers of artists soon develop other cultural amenities and attract other businesses. The whole neighborhood gets upgraded. Of course, by that time, the area has outpriced almost all of the artists, who then move on to another dilapidated area and upgrade that one. But still, it’s to any city’s advantage to invite the artists into such areas.

I’ve started collecting web stories of that strategy being used successfully in the UK. I’ll print these out and bring them along when I approach the correct council or tourist bureau person. If I managed that for Norwich, I would have left a considerable positive legacy.


I’ve written on this blog about arts and the economy before. I might even have mentioned the fact that when artists move into a run-down neighborhood, property values balloon usually eventually pushing the artists out again. This is such a common phenomena that it is even included as a part of the Wikipedia entry on “Gentrification”

“The method by which an urban “artist colony” is transformed into an affluent neighborhood has been well documented for many years.  Artists and subcultural students (later nicknamed “hipsters“, but also including the hippies of earlier years) often seek out devaluated urban neighborhoods for their low prices, central location and for their sense of authenticity or “grit”.[38] As the bohemian character of the area grows, it appeals “not only to committed participants but also to sporadic consumers”;[39] eventually, those “sporadic” consumers edge out the earlier arrivals.”…”Sharon Zukin refers to a somewhat contradictory “Artistic Mode of Production” wherein patrician capitalists seek to increase the property values of (that is, gentrify) urban space through the recruitment and retention of artists; that is, by subtle or overt means of encouraging artists to occupy, say, former industrial facilities.[50] This has become public policy in some cities. In UK cities like Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Liverpool, the actions of regional development agencies, in tandem with private speculators, have attempted to artificially stimulate the process of gentrification. In Jackson, Michigan, the city council has approved the redevelopment of a long-closed 19th century state prison by approving the construction of low rent housing within its walls and making artists loft space available in adjacent abandoned industrial buildings. Property developers have noticed that taking a building they eventually wish to re-develop and offering it cheaply to artists for a few years can impart a ‘hip’ feel to the surrounding area.” 

I also may have written about seeing articles in the UK press about perfectly decent homes in Detroit suburbs being abandoned in the mortage crisis and going for bargain prices. The bargain price I had seen was $7500, if I remember right. And I have suggested in any number of comments on other blogs if not this one, that the solution when whole neighborhoods were endangered by foreclosures and dropping home values was to invite the artists in.

Maybe that house had its wiring and appliances intact, because now (on Treehugger) I have come upon a new article from the New York Times entitled:

The $100 House

Sure enough, while I’ve been thinking that a group of friends getting together and taking over one of those abandoned neighborhoods as an act of entrepreneurship, while I’ve been thinking that a group of artists would be just the kind of people to do that, it’s been done.

“A local couple, Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, started the ball rolling. An artist and an architect, they recently became the proud owners of a one-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $1,900.”…”Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.”…”A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner.”…”In a way, a strange, new American dream can be found here, amid the crumbling, semi-majestic ruins of a half-century’s industrial decline. The good news is that, almost magically, dreamers are already showing up. Mitch and Gina have already been approached by some Germans who want to build a giant two-story-tall beehive. Mitch thinks he knows just the spot for it.”

So if you want to be in the right place when this economic downturn finally lifts, my advice is:

Follow the artists.

It seems that when times get hard, the first thing to go is the arts. And yet, the arts should be the last thing to go. It is the arts, in particular the practice of them, that will see people through the hard times in any number of ways.

I noted this story about London’s mayor’s plans for the arts during these hard times

and I think he’s got a start on the right idea in planning to improve music education and support grass roots arts, though I think it should go far beyond music.

In city after city after city, down and out areas have been revived by allowing the creatives to move in. When no one else can do it, we can, and I include myself among them. Why is this? Because folks in the arts tend to have ideas and then figure out a way, often an unconventional low-cost way, of gaining the skills to do what they have thought of. Artists build portfolio careers, their income coming from a number of sources, often a number of different skills. Over the years, the skills acquired to achieve their aims in the arts and the skills acquired for income stream purposes, so as to preserve as much free time as possible for the arts, and the skills acquired because they don’t have the money to pay someone to do what they need done, accumulate. The combination of a broad assortment of skills and knowledge, along with an active well exercised imagination are exactly what each and every household will need now.

And this is only the first way in which the arts will see you through. I’m going to do a series of posts on this subject, and I’d love to hear from those who think differently so as to hone my arguments and sculpt my ideas into a plan that is recognizable as practical by almost anyone.

Djcnor’s Weblog

  • @KathrynGoldman Saw your blog post on famous people in fiction. Have character who is supposed to be dead, turns out not to be. OK? 1 year ago
  • I'm back! I haven't posted in a long time, but since Joanie Freeman and I won Charlottesville SOUP, I feel the need to return. 5 years ago
  • Haven't been here on my new iPad. Page looks totally different. Where is the option to reply? And where are the RT's? 6 years ago
  • @The_Puck Same to you. You denial is damaging to yourself and all you care about, assuming there must be some of those. 6 years ago