Elgin ArtSpace will house 55 artists
The ArtSpace project will convert the Henrietta block in downtown Elgin into live/work spaces for 55 artists. Construction begins in the spring of 2011 and the first resident artists are expected to move in in the fall of the following year.
The overall cost of the project is $14.5M, funded largely with a federal grant amounting to $1.1M per year for 10 years. The City of Elgin spent $750,000 and provided the location which was acquired via a swap with Elgin Community College.
Most comments on the Daily Herald article were negative but I think this is going to be a big positive for the downtown and the city of Elgin as a whole. The challenge now will be just to make sure that sufficient resources are put into marketing the project to attract a roster of highly qualified artists working on the cutting edge. That’s going to make a big difference in how successful the project becomes. If it just houses 55 basket weavers it’s not going to have the same impact.
Some of the comments centered on how the project is discriminatory, but in fact it may have to become even more discriminatory to be successful. Namely, it could make sense to consider limiting the housing to young artists. That will increase the chances of real art emerging. It will make it more marketable to recent graduates of art schools, increase the chances of collaboration and help to support the downtown’s nascent nightlife scene.