Vibrant and Secure
The future of art never looked better
During the 15th anniversary celebration of Western Avenue in 2020, owner Karl Frey restated his mission to keep Western Avenue as an affordable community for the creative class. That mission was achieved Tuesday, March 1, 2022, when the ownership of Western Avenue | Studios & Lofts was transferred to the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston. Eighteen months in the making – the perfect partner to guide the community of artists is taking the reins and setting the stage for the success of other creative communities.
Why saving Western Avenue matters
This acquisition preserves a unique artist community that has been years in the making, and the result of a substantial investment of time, expertise, and resources, as well as artist involvement. With this purchase, the Arts & Business Council is permanently preserving these buildings for the 350 small, creative businesses that occupy them. Over the past 20 years, most buildings like this one have been converted to non-arts space uses, forever lost as accessible, affordable artist, maker, and community spaces. By preserving the buildings as artist space, the A&BC reduces the likelihood that this property would be repurposed as higher end residential or commercial space, as we have seen in so many similar buildings across Greater Boston in recent years.
The space crisis in Greater Boston’s cultural sector
What happens when there are no affordable spaces left to make, rehearse, present art for all but the largest organizations? The Greater Boston area has faced this possibility in recent years as gentrification continues to accelerate, putting real estate prices out of reach for almost everyone. As prices rise, artists and arts organizations are permanently losing their spaces to work, create, rehearse, and present, as we’ve seen in countless examples in the Greater Boston area in recent years.
At the same time, the Greater Boston cultural sector faces issues of inequity and inequitable access to consistent and affordable capital to address space needs. Small to midsize organizations and artists from historically marginalized populations lack the existing fundraising capacity to meet those needs. We need to address this complex issue through a collaborative, long-term, and holistic approach. For the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, purchasing and preserving a permanent, safe, equitable, and affordable space for artists is part of that long-term approach.