London Plans to Create Affordable Housing for Artists
By Anna Green
It’s hard to make a living as an artist, and as rents rise and arts jobs dwindle, creatives from New York to New Delhi are being priced out of their homes and studios. But at least one city is trying to change that. CityLab reports that London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor for Culture Justine Simons are trying to make London affordable for artists again by developing “Creative Enterprise Zones.”
Khan and Simons are still settling on specific plans for the creative zones, but they may establish subsidized live-work spaces for lower income artists and creatives, or make certain studio complexes off limits to residential developers. Simons is also reportedly considering a plan to help more established artists purchase their own studios, in particular by helping them navigate a labyrinthine loan application system that can be particularly challenging for those without full-time jobs.
Simons tells The Evening Standard that artists in London earn, on average, £10,000 ($13,300) annually—well below what's considered a living wage. Simons and Khan believe the key to preserving London’s thriving arts community is as simple as ensuring artists can afford to live there. Neighborhoods like Hackney Wick and Southeastern Peckham, which have long had a high concentration of artists, are becoming increasingly pricey—in part because the artists, themselves, have made them “cool.”
“At the moment artists and creative people are like the advance party—they find the stranger, weird places that no one sees much value in, they bring them to life, the area becomes valuable and then they are priced out of the market,” Simons told The Evening Standard. “What we want to create is an area where creative people can put down roots and that would be a creative enterprise zone. That’s working with local authorities, developers with the creative community and residents. It’s putting a spotlight and a ring around an area.”
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