When I first came to New York in 1989, I found it hard to believe that artists -- whether visual artists, actors, dancers, etc. -- could afford to live here. Given the real estate prices of today, those seem like the cheap halcyon days. I worry very much about the ability of NYC to remain an arts capital when it is so expensive for people to live within 3 subway stops of Manhattan. Those patrons and collectors that support new art are unlikely to venture out that far unfortunately. Williamsburg is so close, and I still hear people talk about it like it's Kansas.From Crain's New York I learn that Williamsburg's Galapagos is trying to do something about this.
In an effort to keep up and coming artists in New York, Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg plans to meet with the Department of Cultural Affairs tomorrow to begin lobbying for government aid for emerging artists.
Executives at Galapagos, which presents 140 performances a month attracting an average of 8,000 people, say New York City is at risk of losing its status as an international cultural capital because beginning artists can't afford to live here anymore.
"There's not the inflow of young artists moving in the city like there used to be," says Robert Elmes, director of Galapagos. "The conversation at this point isn't whether or not there's opportunity in New York, but just what other city they should go to."
Mr. Elmes says his theater has already seen a significant drop in proposals from college students or recent graduates to come there and present their work.Instead, young artists are heading to places like Pittsburgh, or even overseas to Berlin, which has been aggressive about promoting itself as an affordable hub for emerging arts.
When we attended the Whitney Biennial press preview, I was struck by the fact that the curators travelled to Berlin to visit American artists' studios. I know a number of people that find it cheaper to live and work there part of the year, while still showing with a New York gallery. One example is D-L Alvarez, who shows with Derek Eller Gallery.
On a related note, James and I are troubled by our ability to see as much emerging art as we once did, since we don't own a car. Many interesting Brooklyn galleries are increasingly spread far away from each other, and from a convenient subway stop. As an example, check out this map from WAGMAG. Visiting VertexList, Klaus Von Nichtssagend, and Outrageous Look in one day is quite a trek.