Diversity in Artist Housing

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I received an email recently from artist Junita Unger who brought up the question of artists of color being aware of Artspace’s new building going up at the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station. Artspace develops affrodable live/work space for artists.

Artspace's Mt. Baker buidling rendering

Artspace’s Mt. Baker Light Rail Station buidling rendering

Affordable in this case applies to artists earning between 30% & 60% of King County’s 2013 median annual income of $86,700. Artspace provides a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on qualifying to live in one of their buildings.

Some of their other buildings include the TK Lofts in Pioneer Square and Hiawatha Lofts at Rainier and Dearborn.

Noting that this new affordable artists live/work space in Rainier Valley deserves to have its resident artists representated, Junita provided the following information on the number of artists of color presently residing in affordable artist spaces in Seattle:

  • LeRoy Helms Center (11 units): 6 White, 5 Other/Multiracial;
  • Historic Cooper School (35 units):  27 White, 1 Black/African-American, 4 Asian, 3 Other/Multiracial;
  • Hiawatha Artist Lofts (59 units): 50 White, 4 Black/African-American, 3 Asian, 2 Other/Multiracial;
  • Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Housing (49 units): 43 White, 1 Black/African-American, 5 Asian.

Artspace has involved itself with the Rainier Valley community for over four years, working to make artists aware of the 57 afordable live/work units their Mt. Baker Station project will begin renting next year. They have met with the following organizations: SEED and SEED Arts, Vietnamese Friends Association, Urban Wilderness Project, Southeast District Council, New Holly community, RUNTA, BikeWorks, Community Arts Create, The Makery, Franklin Highschool, Light House for the Blind, Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, Mt. Baker Housing, Rainier Valley Food Bank, Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce, Columbia City Gallery, WA Cash, Rockit Community Arts, C Art Gallery and others.

Artspace also had an information booth at a number of Rainier Valley events over this past summer, including Rainier Beach’s the Back2School Bash, the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade and Summer Street Festival, the Othello Park International Arts and Music Festival, the Beacon Rocks! Beacon Hill Music and Art festival, the Jefferson Park Jubilee and the Mt. Baker Day in the Park.

Still, the more people who know about this opportunty, the more likely artists living in Rainier Valley or near the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station are likely to apply.

If you know of, or are, an artist of color interested in the possibiltiy of securing a live/work space on Artspace’s new Mt. Baker Light Rail Station building, the person to contact for more information is Rebecca Morton, Regional Associate for Artspace, at 206-817-8778 or rebecca.morton@artspace.org.

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