Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How Artists Act as Gentrifiers :: Artists Gentrification TriBeca Essays

How Artists Act as Gentrifiers From TriBeCa to SoHo to Dumbo, artists tend to agglomerate in well-publicized art centers rich in loft space. However, the paradox of artistic agglomeration is that artists are eventually priced out of the region of agglomeration as their presence attracts bourgeois residents and capital-rich businesses that together bid up rents. Art centers thus possess a dynamism that other regions of agglomeration, like Silicon Valley or Route 128, do not share. While the dynamic quality of art centers is well-known, artists’ crucial role in gentrification is not. Often, artists are considered victims of gentrification since they are often the ones being priced out of a region by more affluent businessmen. However, artists play a crucial role in the gentrifying process as they help revitalize areas of past stagnation and crime. That artists are eventually priced out of the regions they helped to revive is not necessarily inefficient as they move on to improve the next low-rent industrial area leaving the old art center with increased land value and more businesses. To understand how artists act as gentrifiers and fit into capitalist plans to raise land value, we must first establish a working definition of gentrification as: â€Å"A process by which dilapidated subdivided dwellings or slum neighborhoods are taken over by the wealthy or their agents through purchase, the non-renewal of leases or occasionally, the harassment of tenants, and then converted to expensive single-family housing. Gentrification is a reversal of the normal filtering process, for it involves old substantial dwellings that usually filter down the social hierarchy but in this case are recolonised and filtered back up.† (Yardley 3-4) Since identifying artists’ role in the gentrification process is the subject of this paper and since the process relies on the establishment of an arts center, we must first ascertain artists’ reasons for agglomerating. Artists agglomerate for four primary reasons: to efficiently coordinate complex and ordinary inputs, to facilitate training, to aid in gatekeeper filtering, and to gain the public exposure necessary to effect sales (Caves 26). Artists living in art centers enjoy low-cost access to specialized auxiliary service providers, like low-cost, high-variety suppliers of the art’s raw material, whether it consist of frames, paints, musical instruments, etc. While this cost advantage might play a small role in agglomeration, an art center’s ability to employ critical writers and important industry publications, which are necessary to legitimize and popularize the artists, provides increasing returns to an art market’s scale.

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