Unpermitted: Why Cities Make Artists’ Workspaces Illegal & How to Fix It

APA New Jersey Chapter


Friday, May 5, 2017
11:10 a.m. - 12:40 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.50

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Planning agencies and artists aren’t always able to speak productively to each other. In many instances, even as artists are given credit for their contributions to the creative city they face severe legal barriers. Artists often work in unpermitted spaces, under great work insecurity. These issues have become more pressing in the wake of many evictions taking place after the Ghost Ship Fire. Using case studies from Providence, Los Angeles and New York, the session will present observations about the causes of these common barriers to artist’s legal access to workspace and possible solutions. The focus of the session will be on artists working in industrial and commercial spaces and will also include review of how zoning and city agencies are organized.

Following the presentation the session attendees (artists, land use planners, other civil servants and creative workers) will be given time to workshop to explore their gaps in knowledge of each other’s work, and discuss possible solutions that might work. The session will be sensitive to the issues of both sides and present a conversation that will help all attendees gain new insight into the motivations and needs of the other attendees.

Participants will also learn:

§  Why cities aren’t always responsive to artists needs.

§  What gaps exist in local governments around art issues.

§  Why zoning works the way it does.

§  How city agencies and planners can talk to artists about their needs and build access.

§  How artists can organize and get changes made to city codes or build knowledge to navigate the system.


Emma Howard


Contact Info

Leonardo Vazquez, leo@artsbuildcommunities.com