The City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division, part of the Economic Development Department, will partner with Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places and local non-profit Austin Creative Alliance on an initiative geared towards addressing the City’s lack of affordable spaces for local artists. Through this joint-partnership, Partners for Sacred Places— a national organization focused on the preservation and active community use of older and historic religious properties— will work to bring together artists with churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship in Austin who have available space. The program is set to launch this spring.
Within the City of Austin, the need for spaces for artists to work, rehearse, and perform has reached critical levels over the past few years. The tremendous growth fueling the city’s rapidly growing economy has caused a dramatic rise in rents for the spaces that local artists have traditionally used. Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places, will be implemented to facilitate mutually-beneficial space sharing relationships between artists and historic houses of worship with space to spare.
“The Arts in Sacred Places program comes to us at a critical time,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “We know our city’s economic, cultural, and social vitality is directly tied to the health of our artistic community. Finding creative space is an essential part of the equation for making sure Austin maintains its quality of life and economic strength.”
With support from the City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and in partnership with the Austin Creative Alliance, the Arts in Sacred Places program will launch in Austin in spring 2017. The program partners will work through the spring to identify and inventory potential sacred spaces that can be used to support artists, and this summer, will begin to reach out to artists to understand more about their needs and to begin matching them with available facilities.
“Partners for Sacred Places has been working for many years to bring together two seemingly disparate groups of people who can provide each other mutual support,” adds Karen DiLossi, Director of the Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places program in Philadelphia. “Places of worship have spaces that work very well for performances, rehearsal, even studio or office. These spaces are often unused during the workweek or in the evenings, but they can also cost a great deal to maintain – particularly for historic structures. Artists typically need spaces at times when the worship spaces, fellowship halls, or educational wings, are not being used, so creating partnerships between the two helps to address needs on both sides. Our work strives to build relationships that go beyond the traditional landlord/tenant model.”
The Cultural Arts Division of the Economic Development Department provides leadership and management for the City’s cultural arts programs and for the development of arts and cultural industries.
The Austin Creative Alliance was formed in 2009 in response to the CreateAustin Cultural Master Plan, which called for a coordinating, convening and advocacy body for the arts, culture and creativity in Austin.
Partners for Sacred Places is the only non-sectarian, non-profit organization devoted to helping congregations and their communities sustain and actively use older and historic sacred places. Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places is the nation’s first program to support both arts organizations and congregations. The goal of this project is not simply to help arts groups find a home in sacred places, but to do so in a way that supports the missions of both group.
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