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Jason Schupbach is the director of ArtistLink which is currently housed at the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He has been attending meetings for artist housing and artist work space development all over Massachusetts for the past year and a half. 

In collaboration with the Artists Foundation they have just launched artspacefinder.com, a great new tool to help artists "Find space to Create."

I was able to catch up with him and interview him to better let the artists of Massachusetts know what about this new website and what Jason he has been up to.

KB: So what is ArtistLink and LINC? What is the difference between the two initiatives and how do they work together?

JS: LINC (the acronym for Leveraging Investments in Creativity) is a ten-year national campaign to improve conditions for artists in all disciplines, so that artists can more readily do their creative work and contribute to community life. It is in its third year of existence and has many programs, such as a National Artist Space Initiative, a National Artist Health Insurance Initiative, and several other programs, including one called the 'Creative Communities' which provided action grants to 10 communities across the country to work on artist issues and share best practices. In Massachusetts, the Creative Communities grant catalyzed a group of funders, government agencies and Community Development Corporations to come together and form ArtistLink.

Our Mission: ArtistLink works collaboratively to create a stable yet dynamic environment for Massachusetts artists and to support their increased contributions to our society and local communities. ArtistLink achieves its mission by taking a leadership role on artist space by providing individual artists, developers, and municipalities with targeted information and technical assistance and by advocating for relevant policy changes at the state level. Through partnerships with other organizations in New England and across the country, ArtistLink shares best practices and participates in the development and execution of new models of artist assistance.

Artistlink is myself and a consortium of expert real estate consultants who provide technical assistance and connections to the developers of artist space.

KB: Who are the funders/founding partners of these initiatives?>

JS: LINC is was primarily funded though a substantial grant from the Ford Foundation and has now raised other funds from Rockefeller Foundation and other foundations.

ArtistLink was formed through the collaborative effort of The Boston Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), LEF Foundation, Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), The Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events, and the Barr Foundation.

KB: Why Massachusetts?

JS: Massachusetts is in an enormous housing and space crisis and this crisis is having a negative effect on the state's ability to retain and attract artists. Artists are the core of a cultural community that is vital to the social, educational, and economic life of the state. The need to find permanent affordable space for artists in the state is imperative. I am most worried about the young artists coming out of school who can't afford as much for space, we can't afford to lose them if we want to maintain the artistic vibrancy of Massachusetts.

KB: What services do you provide and for whom? artists? cities/towns? developers?

JS: For ArtistLink, 'artist space' is any building which contains a permanent, affordable space in which an artist can create their work (e.g. any mix of rental and/or ownership of work, live-work, and living space, band or theater rehearsal space and community art centers). ArtistLink focuses on assisting individual artists, arts-minded organizations, real-estate developers (both for- and non-profit), municipalities, and others, primarily in the pre-development phase.

The services we provide are:
Feasibility assessments
Information and access to the artist market
Connection to potential funding sources
Connection to services (legal, insurance, green building, code consulting)
Building collaborations with key development officials
Assisting artist groups with real estate search

ArtistLink also provides advocacy/policy advice on artist issues including arts district zonings, assistance with restricting buildings for artists, and assistance with sale of municipal buildings for artist use.

We also just launched ArtistLink.org which includes comprehensive real estate information about how to develop artist space, andartspacefinder.com, an on-line listing site for artist spaces to help people 'find space to create'

KB: When and how should some one contact you?

JS: Proponents of artist space, artists looking for information about space, and/or people curious about the issue should feel free to call or email me.

Jason Schupbach
c/o Massachusetts Cultural Council
10 St. James Avenue, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02116
t: 617-727-3668 ext. 330
f: 617-727-0044

KB: What are some of the projects your initiative is and/or has worked on?

JS: 20 months into the effort, seventeen projects in eighteen communities (including Boston, Waltham, New Bedford, Marlborough, Lynn, Chelsea, Worcester, Lawrence, Holyoke, Lowell, Pittsfield, and Malden) have received technical assistance to date. If completed, they will account for 245 units of affordable artist live/work spaces, and approximately 200,000 sf of work space, community arts spaces, gallery spaces and creative industry spaces. ArtistLink also is assisting the Cities of Somerville, Cambridge, Worcester, Pittsfield and Malden with artist planning issues such as artist overlay zoning, building assessment and artist certification.

KB: What are the long term goals of your initiative?

JS: We hope to create and preserve permanent, affordable space for artists across the state in large enough numbers to keep the creative community thriving. As more is learned at the national level through LINC about issues such as health insurance and business training for artists, ArtistLink hopes to bring those lessons in an effective way to the local level.

KB: On a personal note how did you end up working in this sector? You are also practicing musician - what do you play and have you able to find time to pursue that?

JS: Well, I went to urban planning school but I have always loved the arts and playing music (I play something that attempts to sound like a trumpet). I became fascinated with the ways in which city planning and real estate intersect with the arts, and wrote my thesis on Arts Districts. I try my best to play music when I can, but to my pleasant surprise there has been a tremendous positive demand for ArtistLink's services so I have been very busy with work.

Artists Foundation

All images are courtesy of the artist and insert venue name.

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