The value of creating space for artists

July 11, 2022

“supporting artists, needs to be seen as distinct from the value of creative workspace”

What is the value of creating space for artists? In a research paper from earlier this year, ACME Artist Studios set out to explore the different ways that value could be understood.

The study set out to develop a framework of the various aspects of value, centred on artists’ lived experiences. It moves beyond the more traditional conceptions of value that focus on the economic growth narrative – measured by, for example, jobs created or income generated – to consider ways in which we can talk about the broader value of artists’ studios and the contribution of artists.

Among the conclusions is this:

“The value of artists’ studios, and of supporting artists, needs to be seen as distinct from the value of creative workspace, or creative industries more broadly”

At Creative Land Trust, we agree that it’s really important to value artists’ studios and maker space in their own right; if they are lumped in with more general shared workspace there is always the risk they will lose out to co-working hubs and other concepts that can promise more jobs per square foot, at least on paper.

This is why within our social impact statement we try to focus on the direct beneficial impact that providing workspace has – that it is, in and of itself, a good thing for society to create affordable workspace for artists, and we are currently researching ways we can measure this.

On a related note, we also recently became aware of this excellent talk on YouTube by the architect Hana Loftus of HAT Projects. In this 30 minute video, she discusses various artist studio projects she’s worked on, finishing with a purpose built design for Acme in Purfleet – High House Studios.

Prior to the commission, Acme had drawn on their considerable experience in studio provision and undertaken significant research with artists to understand the requirements, resulting in a “rigorously and rationally designed” building.

Hana reflects that she finds it surprising she hasn’t been asked to work on more projects like this – not least because it was a considerably cheaper build than any of the conversions she has worked on. Most importantly though, the building could be designed from the start to work functionally for the next generation of artists.

At Creative Land Trust, we would love to see more opportunities like this – perhaps in large masterplan developments – where the space can be planned specifically for studios, putting the artists first and foremost in the design process. We hope that further work to explore the value of artists’ studios will help make the case for more of this in future.