Nonprofit Considering Creating Affordable Artist Housing In Arkansas

Jul 24, 2019

Central Arkansas artists gather after a focus group Tuesday night conducted by Artspace.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

Artists in central Arkansas may be getting a new option for affordable places to live and create. Artspace, a non-profit real estate developer, is considering sites in Little Rock and North Little Rock for a new project. The group will be hosting a public meeting to guage community interest Wednesday night at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.

Prior to the public meeting, about 20 area artists were invited to give their input on the arts scene at a focus group meeting. Zina Al-Shukri, a local painter, attended and said she was encouraged by the possibilities Artspace discussed.

"The potential for affordability and accessibility to be able to live and work in the same space is very exciting," she said.

Perrion Hurd, another artist who attended the focus group, said being able to live and work near other artists would be helpful.

"Collaboration would be natural," he said, "because we would run into each other all the time and discuss our projects and figure out who's doing what."

Mary Kennedy, the museum director for the Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix College, is part of the group responsible for bringing Artspace to central Arkansas. She hopes for a good turnout at the public meeting Wednesday, which she said will have a party-like atmosphere with food, drinks and live acts.

"It's a chance for people who care about the arts in Little Rock and North Little Rock to be able to come out and be with their peers and participate in a community meeting that we can talk about what it is we want for our creative economy," Kennedy said.

According to Artspace's website, the non-profit has developed over 50 sites in more than 20 different states. As part of its feasibility study, the group plans to return to central Arkansas in August and September to conduct more focus groups and surveys. Wendy Holmes, a senior vice president with the organization, said their unique approach of measuring public support is necessary to facilitate the long-term success of an affordable place where artists can work and live.

When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
501 W 9th St, Little Rock, AR 72201