The Creative Commons Proposal
The arts community is well supported during the tourist season, but even so many artists are unable to make a year-round living that supports the costs of residing in Provincetown. Other creative professionals operate invisibly throughout the year, but experience isolation and frustration during the off-season. Both of these factors are a drag upon the local creative economy, and lead to many leaving town during the off-season to work elsewhere.
We believe that providing collaborative space and resources for these types of professionals will cultivate a sense of community and connection that will increase commitment to the town as a permanent residence and promote economic activity during the off-season. Furthermore, given the possibilities of e-commerce and telecommuting in today’s economy and emerging workforce, this initiative is focused on supporting the development of permanent economic activity in the region that will not be subject to the variations of seasonal tourism.
The build-out and management of 46 Bradford Street will provide quantifiable economic outcomes by providing space and resources for existing and new sole proprietors and small business, including:
- Larger workspace for up to two anchor organizations
- Four to six small workspaces for start-ups and established small businesses
- Six studio spaces for working artists
- Open plan, shared office space for up to ten people at one time
- Flexible, drop-in studio space for up to ten people at one time; this space will
- also be available for educational purposes
- Meeting rooms for member and community use; this space will also be available for educational purposes
- Non-juried exhibition space for local artists and creative professionals
- Shared technology, such as high-speed Internet access, copiers, printers, digital media production facilities, and other equipment.
Programming will provide qualitative economic outcomes, including:
- Establishing a nexus for networking and collaboration among artists and creative professionals who are making, or would like to make, a year-round commitment to living in Provincetown. Once established, we believe this will serve to attract new year-round migration to Provincetown by telecommuters and professionals who work in non-geographic ways.
- Shared workspace will ease the isolation experienced by telecommuters and working artists often experience in the off-season. It will also ease overuse of existing resources, like the Provincetown Public Library.
- Programming will establish an intergenerational dialogue between working professionals, youth, and retired professionals, and will bring high-quality professional development education to the region.
- Our focus on ‘creative professionals’ builds a bridge between existing arts and science communities, enabling the possibility of new forms of collaboration and problem-solving around critical community needs, such as the preparing for and communicating the effects of climate change, and establishing models of sustainable development.
- Co-location of artists and telecommuters establishes the possibility for creating new models of year-round e-commerce for arts and creative economy.
The economic impact of the arts in Provincetown and Cape Cod cannot be understated. According to MassCreative, this impact isnearly $55.5 million annually. The impact goes beyond the arts as well, with a generation of $2.30 in other local sales for every $1 spent by an arts or cultural organization.
The Cape Cod Foundation’s Understanding Cape Cod study found that while artist earn less than the regional average wage, “the average annual income in this sector was also above the average wage for the hospitality industry.” This tells us that providing more supports to artists will help to raise incomes in Provincetown’s primarily tourism-oriented economy.
Meanwhile, the Cape Cod Commission’s 2009 study Leveraging Cultural Assets for Economic Development found that “2,277 residents of Cape Cod and the Islands are employed as artists (including visual artists, craftspeople, photographers, writers, authors, and actors). This represents a significantly higher rate of artists per capita than the national average.”
In addition to the creation of a nexus for the town’s art economy and the exterior historic restoration of the building, this project meets a number of goals set out in the Local Comprehensive Plan (LCP) and the Board of Selectmen FY2017 Town-Wide Policy Goals.
This project meets 7 out of 9 Economic Development goals stated in the LCP:
5.2 GOALS AND POLICIES
GOAL 1: To promote businesses that are compatible with Provincetown's environmental, cultural and economic strengths in order to ensure balanced economic development.
GOAL 2: To locate development so as to preserve Provincetown's environmental and cultural heritage, minimize adverse impacts and enhance the quality of life.
GOAL 3: To encourage the creation and diversification of year-round employment opportunities.
GOAL 4: To improve the economic well being of Provincetown's low and moderate-income residents.
GOAL 5: To better utilize existing resources, structures and commercially zoned space for economic development activities.
GOAL 6: To strengthen local partnerships between businesses and Town government that promote, encourage and support year-round economic activities and which lead to improvements in the local infrastructure that contributes to Provincetown's industries.
GOAL 8: To build on Provincetown's arts heritage to pursue year-round economic opportunities, including educational programs and facilities.
Of particular note from the LCP is this statement:
“Affordable work space for artists is a crucial need for the continued survival of the arts ‘scene’ and for the artists themselves, many of whom find it increasingly difficult to stay in Provincetown.”
We believe that this project will substantially benefit a large number of artists and creative workers who otherwise would not be able to continue to live and work in Provincetown.
In addition, this project meets two of the Board of Selectmen’s FY2017 Town-Wide Policy Goals:
- Foster and support initiatives that encourage a year-round economy
- Pursue public/private and public/public development opportunities whenever possible.
This project highlights and seeks to mitigate the Town’s cultural (rather than regulatory) indifference to or lack of recognition of artist and creative professionals who live and work here. While a lot has been written about artists and creative professionals being harbingers of economic development, as if by magic, a closer analysis of thriving economy shows that institutional support is critical to the success of these kinds of creative professionals.