Saturday, 1 March 2014

Save The Artists!

The shortage of affordable studio space in the capital is to be investigated by the Mayor of London, amid growing evidence that artists are being driven out by rising rents and redevelopment.
Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture in London, said: “This is a pressing issue and it has been for a while. There’s a lot of concern that London is changing and artists are being forced to move to new areas.”
Is there really a lot of concern? I can’t say I’d noticed it being a topic of heated conversation on my commute, or in the office…
London is home to almost two-thirds of all artists’ studios in the UK, the majority of which are concentrated in the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, according to the most recent numbers compiled in the 2010 Cultural Metropolis report.
Ms Mirza said: “We want artists to stay in London. It’s very important culturally and economically, but there are lots of challenges in terms of finding space.”
Well, if you say so, Ms Mirza, but I think you’ll find artists aren’t especially singled out for this. Everyone’s affected. Artists aren’t special. Except in their own minds.

There’s even, believe it or not, a charity for it!
Jonathan Harvey, who set up Acme Studios, a London-based charity which provides artists with affordable studio space, said: “Artists require a lot of space and cheap space. How that can happen in London where property values are so high, is a real question. It’s now about how the Mayor’s Office and local authorities value artists.”
Maybe they don’t?
Mr Harvey said: “A phrase we keep repeating is that artists are pioneers of regeneration because they go where others don’t. But they’re also the victims as they then get priced out. Hackney is a perfect example of that.”
He called on a change to planning laws to include studio space in new developments.
Ah, yes. A demand for special treatment. Well, it’s not like we might need plumbers or paramedics or other sorts. No, having a local artist is clearly much more important…
Seb Patane, an artist at Gasworks studios in Vauxhall said: “It’s sad to see this happening, especially in an area where there aren’t many studio spaces. Yeah, I have no idea what’s going to happen; the prices will go sky high and at the moment artists are having a really tough time, funding their own expenses. It’s all quite grim.”
Meanwhile, everyone else is living in the Land of Milk and Honey…
Gasworks owner Alessio Antoniolli said the neighbourhood was changing “at the speed of light” which was damaging to the community.
Hmmm, other people say things like that and get scorned for it. It’s clearly different for artists!
He said that he receives “hundreds of requests” for studios every year, which is “an indication of how scared artists are. I’m not saying regeneration is a terrible thing, but what makes something great and special needs to be kept and celebrated and supported.”
Really? I leave the last word to the estimable David Thompson, who has so many examples of this sort of thing...
Creative people, being so creative, deserve nothing less than special treatment. I mean, you can’t expect a creative person to write at any old desk in any old room in any old part of town. What’s needed is a lifestyle at some other sucker’s expense. And so that garret has to be in a fashionable suburb or somewhere happening, where the creative vibrations are at their strongest and genius will surely follow. And that pad of choice has to come before the publishing deal and film rights and the swimming pool full of cash. Indeed, it has to materialise before the book itself, or any part thereof. How else can their brilliance flourish, as it most surely will, what with all that creativity. Our betters just need a little cake before they eat those damn vegetables. And possibly ice cream. Here’s some money that other, less glamorous people had to actually earn. You fabulous creature, you.


The Blocked Dwarf said...

I have long felt that the quality of any given piece if art or work of literature is in direct proportion to the material poverty it was created amidst...normally divided by the sum of the drugs the artist had to take to survive those condition.

The greater the number of calories the artist consumed the less the piece is worth.

The creativity, nay the genius, of the French Impressionists emerged from an artistic rocket fuel of absinthe, syphilis, nicotine and whatever disease it is that one gets from rat bites.

Clarissa said...

What happened to people suffering for their art?

Anonymous said...

If they can't afford garrets in London, then move the hell out to where they can afford them. Middlesbrough has lots of grotty garrets, in fact the place is full of 'em, and there're lots of things they could paint - the outside of Asda could do with a touch up!

RAB said...

They want the rest of us to suffer for their Art Clarissa... and boy do we! I went round the Tate Modern about a month ago, some good stuff, but mostly shite on a stick, especially the installations.

Plenty of garret space down here in Bristol,in the People's Republic of Stokes Croft, graffiti capital of the UK.

andy5759 said...

The artistic generators of growth are the creative artists, the ad agencies, the film studios. NOT those who daub elephant shit on their unmade bed, then encase the whole house in concrete.

Lynne at Counting Cats said...

The artists are homeless and starving? Let them eat Scarlet Lake...

JuliaM said...

" direct proportion to the material poverty it was created amidst..."

When you look at how the old masters lived, you may have something there!

"What happened to people suffering for their art?"

Suffering is soooo last century, dahling!

"...there're lots of things they could paint - the outside of Asda could do with a touch up!"


"The artists are homeless and starving? Let them eat Scarlet Lake..."