Artspace Tampa survey reinforces growing demand for affordable housing, studio spaces for creatives

Early in March 2021, the Artspace Tampa Initiative -- comprised of a group of arts advocates -- sent out a call for artists, creatives, and other arts-related businesses to complete a comprehensive survey as part of the Stage 2 of bringing an Artspace project to Tampa.

The goal is to provide more of what is needed by local artists to thrive: more affordable housing for creatives, more variety in private studio spaces, and new shared, mixed-used spaces for workshops or performances.

Now, five months later, the Artspace Art Market Survey Results are back, reflecting more than 1,100 local creatives and arts supporters who participated. 

The findings show:
  • An overwhelming need for more and more affordable living and workspaces for artists;
  • Interest in addressing racial and economic disparities and inequities;
  • Existing site and capital funding opportunities for such a project;
  • The local creative sector is passionate about finding ways to make Tampa’s art scene more robust, better known, and distinguishable from what other cities, including St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, are creating. 
“We worked with Tempus Projects and the Artspace Tampa Initiative’s Steering Committee to put together an Art Market Study that would be representative of Tampa, asking how inclusive are we? Are we outreaching enough? There was a tremendous amount of effort to do that to drive one of the best social media campaigns in 40 or 50 plus surveys we’ve done, getting folks from all backgrounds to take it. Tampa received the 3rd highest response rate out of other studies,” says Teri Deaver, VP of Artspace Consulting.
Overwhelmingly so too. About 90% of survey respondents cited interest in at least one type of creative space, broken down into affordable live/work housing for artists (42%); private studio space (42%); and shared, general, or mixed-use creative space for anything from workshops to rehearsals and exhibitions (58%).
Because of the current lack of affordable housing in Tampa, many creatives are deciding to move to other places or move further away from the city, with the survey showing that 76% have considered leaving if affordable live/work spaces don’t become readily available. Affordability also makes a difference in the pricing for private studios, with pricing needing to be $200 or less per month to better serve more creatives in the community.
“Looking at this amazing demand, we know that this one project can’t serve everything, so we’re looking at other opportunities, like working with property owners or developers in the community to address this need,” Deaver says.
So, what Tampa neighborhood would be best situated to host an Artspace building of shared spaces? The top three picks by survey respondents include Seminole Heights, Ybor City, and Downtown Tampa. But final decisions will boil down to feasibility and availability of either vacant land to build a new project or an existing building or buildings that could be renovated and converted.
“As far as a timeframe goes, it’s never as fast as people like, typically 3-5 years. The biggest challenge will be to identify a site that can be afforded to make affordable spaces, and to keep affordable over time,” says Wendy Holmes, Senior VP of Artspace Consulting.
After the presentation of the Art Market Survey findings, Tampa can move into Stage 4 of the Artspace Consulting Process: Predevelopment. This will require a hefty amount of fundraising efforts. To date, Artspace Tampa Initiative has about $20,000 committed so far, but they’re looking for at least $150,000 for the 1st phase of predevelopment -- and that won’t even get Artspace to construction. The total amount before construction is estimated to be around $750,000, so the Artspace Tampa Initiative plans to solicit donations and spread the word about the huge potential Artspace has in transforming Tampa’s creative ecosystem. 
If you want to see the Artspace Art Market Survey Results, view the full report, watch the Zoom survey results, and/or make a donation, visit Tempus Projects / Artspace Tampa
Follow the Artspace Tampa Initiative on Facebook. 

Read past stories about the Artspace initiative and survey:
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Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”