Non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion en­dorses art spa­ces in Ben­tonville

El Dorado News-Times - - News -

SPRING­DALE (AP) — Ben­tonville is set to be the first North­west Arkansas city to see new artist stu­dio and liv­ing space fol­low­ing a year­long study by a na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­cently re­leased.

Artspace, a Min­neapo­lis-based non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, used a $400,000 grant from the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion to study the need for artist space over the past year. The 210-page re­port recommends de­vel­op­ing af­ford­able places for artists to live and work in the re­gion's four largest cities, the North­west Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette re­ported.

Wendy Holmes, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for Artspace, said hous­ing prices are go­ing up as North­west Arkansas grows, mak­ing it harder for artists who bring vi­tal­ity and vi­brancy to the area to live in the area.

"Af­ford­abil­ity will be­come more and more of a chal­lenge. It's very timely," she said be­fore a re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion of the re­port in Spring­dale. Artspace lead­ers also pre­sented the re­port in Ben­tonville and will be in Fayet­teville and Rogers soon.

Holmes said the project would be­gin in Ben­tonville be­cause the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion has an in­ter­est in Ben­tonville. She added the foun­da­tion also has an in­ter­est in North­west Arkansas as a whole.

"We sup­ported Artspace's re­search to help each com­mu­nity iden­tify their spe­cific needs for spa­ces where artists can live and work and to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion that can be used to iden­tify pos­si­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties," the foun­da­tion's home re­gion pro­gram di­rec­tor, Karen Minkel, said in an email.

Holmes es­ti­mates all the projects, which will be de­vel­oped si­mul­ta­ne­ously, should be com­pleted in five to seven years. How­ever, this is the first time the or­ga­ni­za­tion has done a re­gional re­port span­ning sev­eral cities. Sin­gle projects typ­i­cally take three to five years, she said. All de­vel­op­ments would in­clude more than 100 units.

Shay Hol­loway, 24, of Fayet­teville is a painter and pho­tog­ra­pher. She also works full time at the JCPen­ney por­trait stu­dio in the North­west Arkansas Mall.

"It's needed. Pho­tog­ra­phy is the side hus­tle type­thing be­cause I don't make enough right now to be able to sus­tain my­self, so the sec­ond job is def­i­nitely what I need to get me over the hump a lot of times," she said.

Hol­loway said she could see her­self liv­ing in an

Artspace unit.

"I'm very in­ter­ested in the live/work as­pect of it," she said.

Af­ford­ing a stu­dio on top of hous­ing can be ex­pen­sive, while an Artspace unit is de­signed for artists to live and have space to work on their art so they don't have to also rent a stu­dio, she said.

Hol­loway cred­its the re­gion for her in­ter­est in pho­tog­ra­phy.

"The area re­ally in­spired me to want to do pho­tog­ra­phy be­cause it's just so pretty and it changes a lot," she said.

Artspace was es­tab­lished in 1979 and has com­pleted 52 projects in 32 cities and 22 states. These would be the first Artspace projects in Arkansas, Holmes said.

The re­port states cre­at­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing af­ford­able spa­ces for artists will en­cour­age cre­ative sec­tor growth and re­tain peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions con­tribut­ing to the re­gion.

"Rapidly ris­ing rents in­hibit artists and cre­ative en­trepreneurs from find­ing at­tain­able hous­ing op­tions. Mar­ket pres­sure is felt in Ben­tonville in par­tic­u­lar, fol­lowed by Fayet­teville, Rogers, then Spring­dale," ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The rec­om­men­da­tion for Ben­tonville is to build 50 af­ford­able live/work artist hous­ing units; 10 artist-in-res­i­dency spa­ces pro­grammed by the Mo­men­tary; and an in­no­va­tion space.

The site would be next to the Mo­men­tary, an arts and per­for­mance venue ex­pected to be com­plete in 2020. Crys­tal Bridges Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art is de­vel­op­ing the Mo­men­tary.

Artspace recommends in Spring­dale a live/work hous­ing de­vel­op­ment with pos­si­ble stu­dio spa­ces with a Mar­shallese cul­tural cen­ter as its an­chor ten­ant, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The pro­posed site is next to the Arts Cen­ter of the Ozarks.

Artspace plans to fo­cus more on space for cre­ative busi­nesses in Rogers' down­town and less on hous­ing units than in other cities, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The down­town site is to be de­ter­mined.

A clas­sic mixed-used de­vel­op­ment with 35 live/work hous­ing units and 15-20 pri­vate work­ing stu­dios is rec­om­mended for a site next to the Fayet­teville Pub­lic Li­brary, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The re­port lists sev­eral pub­lic and pri­vate en­ti­ties that could help pay for the de­vel­op­ments. Holmes said the next step in the process is to meet with city of­fi­cials in all four cities and dis­cuss the pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions for the de­vel­op­ments.

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