The City of Austin Economic Development Department has released results of its 2017 Creative Space Survey. Data collected from more than 500 artists, arts organizations, and creative-sector businesses will be used to inform the City’s plans for addressing affordability of work/performance space for local creatives. The survey also provides data integral to the development of creative space incentives, district designation, and creative space matchmaking efforts with partner organizations. Administered July–September of 2017, the survey revealed several broad trends within Austin’s creative sector:
Artists and organizations are looking for small to mid-sized spaces to grow
- 81 percent of artists polled indicated their ideal workspace to be 500 square feet or less
- 78 percent of organizations and businesses currently have space under 5,000 square feet, with 39 percent currently operating in small spaces under 1,000 square feet
- 51 percent of organizations and businesses said their space was currently too small
- 47 percent of organizations and businesses said their ideal space would be 1,000-5,000 square feet
Artists and Creative Spaces are finding it hard to stay in Austin
- 38 percent of respondents indicated they have paid for space they could not afford
- 69 percent used a space they identified as not being ideal for their needs
- 42 percent of respondents said they have considered leaving Austin for another city or state
- 23 percent of organizations and businesses are in a precarious position with month to month leases
- 12 percent of organizations and businesses shared that they currently do not have or are in immediate danger of losing the space they need within the next year
Flex Spaces/Black Box Theaters and Classroom space are popular space requests
When organizations and businesses were asked to identify what their ideal space would include:
- 49 percent indicated flexible performance space and black box theaters
- 52 percent asked for classrooms and teaching space
- 34 percent were interested in workspaces for individual artists
In 2017, the Economic Development Department issued the Music and Creative Ecosystem Stabilization Recommendations which outlined strategies for preserving and growing creative spaces in Austin. Austin City Council has implemented programs such as Arts in Sacred Places and the Art Space Assistance Program to further address this challenge. Despite these clear steps forward, the City acknowledges that there is still work to be done around this issue.
“Results of the inaugural Creative Space Survey confirm the affordability issues facing our creative community and reinforce the need for a variety of solutions to both preserve the current and identify new long-term spaces for artists,” said Meghan Wells, Manager of the Cultural Arts Division. “Austin’s cultural ecosystem is at the heart of what makes us one of the country’s most popular places to live and visit, and the Economic Development Department is committed to working with public and private partners to improve this situation for our artists.”
The Creative Space Survey serves as a unique platform for artists, cultural organizations, and creative businesses to directly express their needs to the City. The data it generates not only helps City staff develop new strategies but also provides arts organizations with concrete information to support advocacy efforts and funding requests.
First implemented in 2017, the survey will be issued annually in effort to understand how best to promote and incentivize the development of specific creative spaces and to track changes in the affordability of Austin’s creative spaces over time. The 2018 survey is open now through September 3.
Complete survey results for 2017 are available for download at austintexas.gov/creativespacesurvey.