Combining Cohousing with New Urbanism for Artists

Louisville Artists Cohousing in Boulder County Colorado is creating a community that combines cohousing with new urbanism for artists – thus building opportunities for economic sustainability into the community for artists. As artists we struggle with having the resources, community support and inspiration we need to create. Most of the artists in our group do other things – programmer, teacher, receptionist, real estate agent, HR. The cohousing community model provides us the governing framework to share resources, live sustainably, and create more art opportunities for ourselves, and more ways to incorporate arts into our lives.

We will build personal and shared studios and art-making spaces and spaces for showing, selling, and performing that can accommodate the public and local area artists. Our 36 homes in artist cohousing will have studios built into them – live/work lofts. On First Friday we can have art walks and invite the community for open studios.

Given that our members include musicians, filmmakers, and performers, our common areas will have public performance spaces. Personal studios and common areas will both be used for creating music, practicing, rehearsing, and performances. Artist groups, including writers groups, will meet in our classroom. The guest rooms in our common house can be used for artist in residence and visiting artist programs.

Artists who do other full time work to make their living find that life seems to conspire to fill their time with distractions that are not art. Thus we plan to create systems that inspire us to thrive as artists, to share art and create more art. As individual artists in our community become more connected and solidly involved we will figure out how many ways we can comfortably incorporate that intention into artists cohousing policies. We expect this to be a natural way to grow in cohousing because forums to encourage art, like group meals and open mic night are built-in to cohousing already.

Clustering arts amenities is synergistic for artists.

We’ve started a non-profit, Synergy Arts, to build the art community and run studios on the property. The Shared 4,000 sq ft art studio with classroom, gallery, visitor center and a café is our commercial component plan, run as a nonprofit providing art studios, events, jobs and services to local residents. The studio space will be open to artists from the surrounding area (for a fee) and will be equipped for making ceramics, painting and mixed media, jewelry and small metal, and wood. We are partnering with a successful local art center – The Art Underground in Louisville – who will be building their new art education and performing arts center adjacent to us. They provide community art education and we build communities of artists and provide workspace for artists.

Our cohousing community land is only a small portion of Boulder County Housing Authority’s (BCHA) larger arts village development that will have over 200 affordable rentals for seniors and families, social services and a commercial live/work area of affordable units. Cohousing will benefit from partnering with BCHA because on their own part of the property they will build community gardens, playgrounds, and open areas. They will set aside property for the shared studios which we will buy from them as funds materialize. About 12 of our artist members will live in affordable rentals owned, by BCHA and adjacent our 24 home cohousing property. The BCHA master plan for the site also includes other galleries and informal gathering and performance spaces to fully create the artists village concept.

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