Upstreet Pittsfield Creative Space Study Shows More Artist Work Space Needed

PITTSFIELD – The Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development and the Department of Community Development announce the completion and availability of the “Upstreet Pittsfield Creative Space Study” prepared by ArtsMarket, Inc. regarding the need for artist work space and live/work space in Pittsfield. The study was funded by an ArtistLink program grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to gauge the existing supply and demand of artist work space and live/work space in Pittsfield’s downtown and specifically within the City’s designated Upstreet Cultural District.

The study reveals several key findings and recommendations.   One such finding emphasizes the importance of creating a greater density of theater and performance space available for rental year-round within Pittsfield’s Downtown Arts Overlay District.  According to the study, this will help to brand Pittsfield as a “theatre destination” within the Berkshires with the existing resident theater companies, the Berkshire Theatre Group and Barrington Stage Company, as anchors to the District.

The next key finding identified the need for artist live/work space close to or within the District.  The study identified a total of 42 artists who expressed interest in live/work space in Pittsfield.  Additionally, the artists specifically indicated they were seeking space where there is good visibility and street level opportunity to establish a co-op gallery.  The study also states that more makers’ space or studio work space is needed.

According to Doug Clark, Director of Community Development, “A makers space would be a great addition to our efforts to promote the creative economy.  The City has issued a letter of support for one potential makers space that is applying for funding to Mass Development under their Transformative District Initiative.”

The majority of artists who participated in the study currently work at home and many of these seek the opportunity to work out of a studio complex where there are other working artists. Current studio spaces are located at NuArts and the Lichtenstein Center. The study also reports that artists seek larger studios within the District. The study stated that an additional 15-20 studios could be rapidly filled with tenants.

Jen Glockner, the Director of the Office of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield states, “We are looking closely at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts studio space and reevaluating its usage and opportunities for expansion, including possible artist incubator space, shared studio space or educational usage.”

The study also details the results of a survey conducted as part of the data gathering process. ArtsMarket, Inc. prepared and distributed the electronic artist survey that included questions about artists’ current spaces, needs, economic wherewithal, and the characteristics of artists’ desired working and living spaces.  The survey also included questions as to the specific type of media artists are working with such as performing arts, painting, sculpture, photography, writing, textiles, and assembled mediums. More than 200 Pittsfield and Berkshire artists and arts organization representatives participated in the study either through completing the on-line survey, participating in round table discussions and interviews, or both.

“Local artists continue to play a vital role in the revitalization of our downtown,” noted Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi.  “This study will help us ensure the creative sector continues to be a vibrant part of our community and help us assist property owners to successfully meet the needs of working artists.”

An electronic copy of the entire study can be viewed on the City’s website at www.cityofpittsfield.org. by clicking on the “Arts & Culture” tab under the red City Hall drop down menu.

The City of Pittsfield was one of seven communities statewide that received the artist space planning grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s ArtistLink Program.  The grants were awarded to cities and towns that demonstrated a commitment to advance and integrate artist space planning into community-wide economic development plans and strategies.